Flossing is one of the most controversial things the dentist will ask of their patients.
You wouldn’t think flossing would be such a sticking point for people. You already brush twice a day (or at least you should be!), so as long as you are taking care of that it seems like flossing one out of those two times would not be such a big deal.
Still, people ask why it’s even necessary. They point to articles or studies that cite the ineffectiveness of flossing for the average person. Never mind the fact that both the American Dental Association and the United States Department of Health and Human Services both recently affirmed the importance of flossing. There are still sources out there that suggest flossing is at best pointless and at worst detrimental.
First, it’s important to say that cleaning between the teeth is an important part of maintaining good dental health and hygiene. Plaque and food particles have a tendency to collect in the crevices between your teeth. It’s important to clean those areas just as much as it is to clean the rest of the tooth’s surface.
The real issue is in the act of flossing itself, and the truth is that a lot of people just don’t do it right.
Proper flossing technique is as follows: the floss needs to be eased in between the teeth. Once between the teeth, bend the floss around one of the teeth in a c formation and then scrape the floss up the tooth. Repeat for the other tooth, and then move on to the rest of your teeth.
The problem comes in when people try to power through flossing as quickly as possible. Anti-flossers often cite how painful flossing is, which is why people rush. However, ironically, it’s the act of rushing that often causes the pain in the first place. By forcing the floss down onto the gums quickly, they are irritating that tissue, and by not scraping the tooth properly they fail to get rid of the plaque and the food particles.
Luckily, if flossing isn’t your thing there are still other options out there for cleaning in between your teeth, such as water picks or pre-threaded flossers. Regardless of the method you choose, our recommendation will always be to clean between the teeth. Just be sure to do so correctly, or else you’re just causing yourself aggravation without getting any of the benefits.