Is flossing our teeth really a waste of time?
We have always been urged to floss our teeth, but an expert has claimed it may be doing more harm than good. Dentists often preach about the benefits of flossing regularly as an effective way to dislodge stubborn pieces of food and plaque from your mouth. If this debris is left to build up it can cause inflammation, irritate the gums and lead to infection and disease. However, it’s one of the least popular tasks when it comes to keeping our teeth clean and healthy, with less than 20 per cent of people flossing on a regular basis.
Now a leading dental expert has claimed the tricky – and sometimes painful – practice may actually be a waste of time because most of us are doing it wrong.
Robin Seymour, Emeritus Professor of Dental Sciences at Newcastle University, has warned that by failing to floss properly we could be doing damage to our gums and increase the risk of gum disease.
“Don't get me wrong - if you floss correctly, it's a fantastic way of getting rid of the plaque between teeth and underneath the gums,” the expert is quoted as saying by MailOnline. “But flossing requires a high level of dexterity to manipulate the floss in the mouth - particularly towards the back of the mouth - and the vast majority of people simply don't have that degree of dexterity.
“Instead of removing plaque, too many people are simply pushing the plaque that is between their teeth down underneath the gums and leaving it there - which is the last thing you want to do. Another common error is using a sawing action to drag the floss back and forth. This doesn't remove plaque effectively, but it can traumatise the gums.”
Robin argues that because flossing is so difficult to do well, alternative solutions need to be considered to keep the mouth healthy.
He is in favour of thorough brushing, ideally with an electric toothbrush, followed by an interdental brush to clean between the teeth.
Alcohol-free antiseptic mouthwashes are also helpful in the battle against plaque and debris build-up. Robin recommends swilling the solution around your mouth before using your tongue to push it between the teeth.
He insists his ideas are far easier to master and people are more likely to perform them on a regular basis.