Do I need to floss?!


Well yes .... and no..... let us explain!

Some of you may remember the drama a year or two back about the limited evidence there was in relation to flossing and its benefits. It is true that peer reviewed evidence is out of date and needs to be renewed but as dentists we clearly see the benefits of flossing in our patients every day, as such:

Most dentists would clearly recommend flossing for the following reasons:

  • Not flossing means that you are missing about half the tooth surface that lies between your teeth.

  • Plaque buildup between your teeth can lead to:

    • Tooth decay,

    • Gum disease (periodontitis) 

    • Bad breath (halitosis)

  • Brushing is ineffective in cleaning plaque from in-between your teeth.

How often should I floss?

You should floss once per day, work it into your usual routine.  Its best to choose a time where you are not too stressed for time so you can make into a regular habit. Many people will find that they are less pushed for time in the evening, but choose a time that works best for you!

How do I floss?

Your dentist is the most qualified person to instruct you on flossing correctly but there are some basic tips you can follow: 
Tip 1. Wind approximately 45 cm of floss around your middle fingers and grip it tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. 
Tip 2. Keeping the thumb and forefingers close together, gently guide the floss between the teeth, taking care not to cut or damage your gums with abrupt movement.
Tip 3. You should use a gentle up-and-down motion that goes down one side of the tooth, just under the little collar of gum and then back up the other side (think of it as an on-the-side “c”)

But you said I might not need to floss??!!

Well yes we did, flossing is the most common way to clean in-between your teeth (inter-dental cleaning) but we find that so many people try and fail to work flossing into their routine mainly because they find it fiddly and difficult to manage. Also people who have limitations to their dexterity such as from arthritis or other medical issues find it particularly difficult.
So there are many other options for inter-dental cleaning.

Inter-dental Brushes

Inter-dental brushes such as 'piksters' are very effective at cleaning in-between teeth and in some cases are more effective than flossing. They are less fiddly than flossing and are much easier to use, ask your dentist about them or try them out yourself. Used correctly they can be reused for a number of times.  You can find them in the supermarket or at the chemist.


Flossettes combine a small section of floss and a handle to aid in the placement and use of the floss, these can make flossing a breeze and help you work it into your daily routine.
They can be found at the supermarket or the chemist and are usually disposable.