Cleaning between the teeth is important to dentists. It is critical in the prevention of the most common form of tooth decay in adults (cavities between the teeth) and both prevents and manages gum disease. We now also know that good cleaning in this tricky area is an essential part of general healthcare – reducing risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and possibly Alzheimer’s disease.
We also know that it is one of the hardest things to do consistently . . . and consistently well.
A users guide. . .
'The good’ and ‘the bad’ aspects of the most well known tools for interdental cleaning – floss and tape.
Used properly, floss effectively cleans under the gum line gently, reducing the amount of bacterial plaque and breaking up the diabolically clever structure built by bacteria - biofilm.
It is easy to buy, fairly inexpensive and easy to carry around.
You really have to know what you are doing to get the best out of floss. This requires training by the dentist or hygienist to get your technique nailed.
Flossing requires interest and motivation on your part. If you don't care, you won't do it well.
Flossing takes time which is a challenge in a world that seems to be time poor.
Floss cannot clean hollow shapes on the tooth surface, so leaves behind bacteria in these areas.
The everyday problems dentists see with floss:
People lose interest when they get to their back teeth and either floss badly or just stop altogether. Back teeth work very hard and deserve to be loved as much as the pretty ones in front.
People behave really well for about 2 weeks after their dental visit. They will floss every day like a legend. . . then they lose interest . . . for the next 5 months and 2 weeks. At this point the floss only gets taken out for the occasional bit of meat stuck between the back teeth
Floss needs a high level of manual dexterity. Not everyone has this. It also works best with small fingers. Large fingers will always struggle to produce a good result.
Floss vs Tape
Personal choice. Go for the one that works best for you. This dentist prefers tape.
Which one do you prefer?
Are floss and tape the tools for you?
If you have good dexterity and are willing to learn how to do it well, flossing is a great way to keep the challenging space between the teeth sparkling.
You also need to be the sort of person who treats all of your teeth as being worth the care and effort.
If you are willing to make the time to floss every day, and give it the focus it deserves you will be a winner in the dental hygiene - total health stakes.