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What the New Study about Flossing Doesn't Show

Earlier this week, media headlines pointed to new evidence that questions the need for flossing. Say, what? Like other diligent flossers, I find this news frustrating but as a dental professional, I am a bit miffed that a study deemed limited by patient participation and time rings louder than the widespread research that demonstrates the great benefits that flossing actually has on oral health. So, I am here to set the record straight about my beloved Mr. Floss!

Truth: Toothbrushing only reaches 65% of tooth surfaces.

Truth: Flossing alone does not prevent cavities or bone loss, also called periodontal disease. (Note: Periodontal means gums and bone or the tooth's support structure.) Flossing should be a part of a consistent oral care regimen that also includes toothbrushing and rinsing with mouthwash. Routine dental visits are also required for good oral health.  

Truth: When done correctly, flossing can reduce cavity risk because it removes impacted food and sweeps away the bacteria or plaque harboring at and below the gum line. This plaque is what causes gum inflammation or gingivitis and over time (say about 30 years) can lead to severe periodontal disease and tooth loss. 

Truth: String floss is not the only type of interdental cleaner. Others such as waterflossers and interproximal brushes have actually been found to be increasingly more effective than a poor flossing technique. So, if you still want to throw away your floss, replace it with a Waterpik.     

Bottom Line: Flossing helps to keep your teeth healthy, but it must be done properly. Consult with your dental provider to determine what oral care regimen is best for you. 
Here is the Step-By-Step Guide to Proper Flossing from the American Dental Association:

Break off about 18 inches of floss and wind most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wind the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger will take up the floss as it becomes dirty.

Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.

Guide the floss between your teeth using a gentle rubbing motion. Never snap the floss into the gums. 

When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.

Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this method on the rest of your teeth. Don’t forget the back side of your last tooth. 

Truth: Teaching kids how to to floss properly can lead to a lifetime of good oral health.
For young flossers, I recommend Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss. Oral-B floss is the most widely recommended floss by dentists and hygienists, and it's great for tight spaces and braces because it’s been proven to slide up to 50% more easily than other brands. Oral-B Glide Floss is also effective at removing plaque below the gum line which can potentially save your teeth.


  1. Flossing is so hard and time consuming. Thanks for the alternative options.

    1. You're welcome! I started the habit late but I'm so glad my hygienist kept encouraging me to take better care of my gums. Once you get your technique down, oral care is like second nature!

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  3. Thank you Shahbaz and thanks for following!


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