Last summer we all got very excited about flossing. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration but people were definitely talking about it. The story was that there is no point flossing your teeth. So let’s look at this beyond the headlines. The reason we clean our teeth is to get rid of food and plaque. Plaque is a soft build of bacteria. We want to get rid of these bacteria because these are the scoundrels who cause decay and damage your gums. We generally use a toothbrush to get rid of most of the muck in our mouths. But your brush cannot get between your teeth to remove the bacteria hiding there. So we need to find a way to clean between our teeth. We need to clean between our teeth at least once a day. The two main options are to use either interdental brushes or floss. Is there actually any evidence to say that either of these options work? Well, I’m going to ask Cochrane. Cochrane is a network of health researchers and clever science people. They are great at putting the research together and reviewing it.

Cochrane reviewed the evidence on flossing in 2011. They did find evidence that flossing reduced gingivitis. Gingivitis  is when your gums bleed because of the presence of plaque.

healthy-gums-vs-gingivitis

Gingivitis

However, they did say that the available studies weren’t particularly good and that conclusions should be taken with a pinch of salt. So, annoyingly there is no good evidence either way on flossing. Cochrane also had a look at the evidence for using interdental brushes in 2013 and guess what? There was no good evidence about these either. However, the point that the newspapers don’t mention is this… Having no good evidence for doing something is not the same as saying it is not worth doing. I’ve done my own research and there is no good evidence on wiping your bottom. I’m still going to do it. The fact remains that lots of bacteria build up between your teeth and your toothbrush cannot get in there. So you need to be doing something extra to get that part of your teeth clean. If there is enough space, interdental brushes are the best method to get between your teeth. However, if the gaps between your teeth are very tight, you might not have space for interdental brushes. In that instance, you need to floss. Read more about how to clean between your teeth.

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