Flossing, next to useless?

Flossing, next to useless?

In the media lately there has been discussion that flossing is of no benefit.


Flossing is cleaning between one’s teeth with dental floss. Traditionally we floss to remove plaque and food particles in places where a toothbrush cannot easily reach, under the gum line and between your teeth. This is particularly important when fillings are present because they can harbour bacteria where they join the tooth.

Your teeth have five surfaces if you don’t floss you are leaving at least two of the surfaces unclean. Undisturbed plaque can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) within a few days so regular disruption of this will prevent it.


We know bacteria between teeth does cause decay and gum disease and that a toothbrush will not effectively clean between teeth. How else do you clean between your teeth?

There are other aids available to clean between teeth such as interdental brushes and oral irrigators.

Floss can be cumbersome and difficult to use, however, correct instruction from your dental hygienist or dentist will help. There are also floss holders available to assist.

Flossing done correctly is effective however the focus should be on how well it is done. It is true the effectiveness of flossing has not been proven and this has been discussed in the Media recently. Just because it has not been proven it does not mean it is not beneficial.


It is absolutely recommended to floss and use other interdental cleaning aids as part of your oral hygiene regime. So the use of floss is not useless but correct technique is key.

One dentist summed it up by saying “Only floss the teeth you want to keep".

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