26 September 2019

The fuss of floss - is it important and how should it be done?

Most of us understand how important it is to brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, there is more mystery surrounding flossing.

Flossing is a common method of “interdental cleaning” which means cleaning between the teeth.  It helps to remove debris and plaque that can be hard to remove with a regular toothbrush.  An increasingly popular alternative to floss are “interdental brushes” – handheld toothbrushes designed specifically for use between the teeth.

TePe interdental brush and Oral B Glide floss

Tavistock House Dental Practice recommend their adult patients perform interdental cleaning daily.  Recent research has also demonstrated that interdental cleaning before brushing is the best way to clean our teeth effectively.

The study found that flossing loosens bacteria and food debris from between the teeth, which allows brushing to be much more successful at removing plaque.

Dr Nigel Carter OBE, Chief Executive of the Oral Health Foundation, believes the findings of the study illustrate why it is so important to make interdental cleaning part of our daily routine.

Dr Carter says: “While brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste is absolutely essential for a good oral health routine, this study shows that interdental cleaning also has a big part to play when it comes to keeping our teeth and gums healthy.

The Oral Health Foundation’s Guide to Interdental Brushing

Interdental brushes come in a range of different sizes, from as thin as 0.4mm to as thick as 1.5mm. Whichever one you use should fit between your teeth snugly but comfortably; you shouldn’t have to use much force. You may find you need to use a couple of different sizes, but the best way to find out is to ask your dentist or hygienist the next time you have an appointment.

  1. Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and forefinger.
  2. Gently place the brush through the gap between your teeth – don’t force the brush through the gap.
  3. Brush in and out of each space between your teeth.

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Using a small amount of fluoride toothpaste or Corsodyl gel on the Interdental brush and “pre-bending” it will help it glide between your teeth and stop it catching.

If you have any questions or would like assistance looking after your oral health, Tavistock House can help – call us on 01296 481615 or alternatively request an appointment here.

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Mazhari F & Boskababy M et al. (2018) The effect of toothbrushing and flossing sequence on interdental plaque reduction and fluoride retention: A randomized controlled clinical trial. Wiley: Journal of Periodontology. 2018 Jul;89(7):824-832

We are proud to have been awarded membership of the British Dental Association Good Practice Scheme since 2011 and we are constantly trying to improve the quality and range of services we can provide to our patients.

Mission statement

To provide the highest quality dental care across the whole spectrum of dentistry.

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