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Everyone In Floss?...Not Necessarily!

Don't throw that floss away as of yet! Although the need to floss has come into question, flossing can still lower your risk of dental decay and periodontal disease. A recent Associated Press report concluded that there is only 'weak, very unreliable' evidence for supporting the use of floss.In my 18 years of dentistry, I have seen many people struggle with the use of floss. Not only is it difficult to manipulate in the cavernous depths of the mouth, but it is also time consuming. Let's face it, we are all VERY busy. So an extra 2 minutes of flossing could spell disaster when it comes to beating the line up at the Tim Horton's Drive-Thru.

The effectiveness of flossing is difficult to measure in a scientific study due to variability in flossing technique and many other factors contributing to tooth decay and periodontal disease. So it is perfectly reasonable that there would be 'weak, very unreliable' evidence in favour of flossing. However, the fact is, we NEED the best possible method to clear out any debris interdentally (ie. between the teeth). Without interdental tools (including floss, proxy brushes, soft picks), we are leaving up to 40% of our teeth vulnerable to the damaging effects of plaque and biofilm.

Just as The GAP has put 'everyone in Khakis', we must avoid the temptation to put 'everyone in floss'. With the plethora of interdental tools that are available, the dental profession must make it a priority to find the tool that works best in your hands. For those that are flossing-challenged, someone may be better off using a proxybrush instead of floss. Whereas, someone else may be quite adept at flossing and should continue to do so. Our mouths are quite unique, and so should our interdental cleaning regime!

Common sense would say that if you don't look good in Khakis...then wear jeans. On a similar note, if flossing is not a good fit for you, then try something else to 'clean between'!