To Floss or Not To Floss

58986866 - young woman flossing teeth in front of mirror

Recently, a patient brought to my attention an Associated Press release that made it to the evening news, stating officials have never really researched the effectiveness of regular flossing.  She then asked me to comment on whether I think it is necessary to floss or not to floss.

While I was aware of the limited data available supporting this oral health care practice, I have personally observed, anecdotally, that the effects of some kind of in-between bacterial disruption on a daily basis really does help to reduce bleeding gums and inflammation.

And here is the thing; most people hate flossing!!!!!  For most, it is uncomfortable, awkward and just plain too-difficult for them to do.  Instead I recommend, and give out, little plastic toothpicks called Rotapoints that are convenient, easy to use and most of all patients love them!

The other tool for in-between cleaning that I am obsessed with as of late is the Waterpik.  While it means spending a little more time in the bathroom, I find my patients who won’t floss are usually quite dedicated to making this a part of their daily routine and if the truth be known, I believe the results are better than flossing and tooth-picking!

However, I can’t resist the opportunity, as a result of this announcement, to challenge my colleagues in the field of dentistry to reflect on a lesson we all might learn from this example and then apply it to another practice in our profession that we have all taken for granted and promote:

“The misguided belief that water fluoridation is beneficial and necessary.”

Just like the use of floss, where is the science and what does it say?  Please do not take anyone else’s word for it, do your own research! Unlike flossing, this is a drug that can and does have the potential for causing serious side-effects.  We are dealing with people and their health and we always have to remember:

“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”

We owe it to our patients, who trust us to always have their best interests in mind, with everything that we recommend for them!

I welcome your feedback. You can connect with me via email or telephone, leave a comment right here on the site or join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Until next time,


2 thoughts on “To Floss or Not To Floss

  1. Flossing has huge benefits and can prevent many issues that could develop in the future (tooth loss, gingivitis and more). It should be part of everyones daily routine, but most people hate to floss. Hopefully with these other options that you mentioned, more people start flossing or at least start using a product to help clean in between the teeth.

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