Recently media articles have reported that there is no need to floss as the benefit of flossing has not been scientifically proven. The media is partly correct that yes there needs to be better scientific studies in this area but no you still should use some sort of interproximal tooth cleaning aid. Previous studies have found little difference between groups of people that only brush and groups that brush and floss. These studies are difficult to control, because in theory the researcher would need to floss every study participant’s teeth the same way every day to have accurate reproducible data. Here in lies the flossing studies errors with participants flossing technique. The best flossing technique is floss down between each tooth following the contour of each adjacent tooth surface down into the gums sulcus. To simply floss down and up does not disrupt the bacteria’s biofilm.
As flossing is technique sensitive and arduous for most people dental companies have manufactured alternative products:
A piece of floss is held between 2 plastic arms which are attached to a handle. These devices make flossing quick and easy particularly for people with large or uncoordinated fingers. However it is difficult to follow the contour of each adjacent tooth surface.
These devices have a metal wire with bristles attached to a handle. Interproximal brushes come in a range of sizes. These are
less technique sensitive and are great at disrupting the bacterial biofilm as long as you use the correct size. The downside of these is if the gaps between your teeth are too small to comfortable thread the brush through.
Waterflossers are becoming more popular, however they have actually been around since 1962. Waterflossers are great at disrupting the bacterial biofilm as long as you buy the right waterflosser. Not all water flossers are built equal. Early studies suggested water flossers that provided 1,200 to 1,400 pulsations per minute were the most effective. The pulsations produce a compression and decompression phase that allows bacteria and debris to be flushed from the gum sulcus or pocket and is reported to be three times more effective than a continuous-stream device. Similarly, a medium-to-high pressure setting in the range of 50 to 90 pounds per square inch (psi) was shown to be safe and more effective than with lower pressure settings.
So although those media articles might make you feel better about yourself for not flossing, it is still best to use some form of flossing aid to avoid too many preventable trips to our dentists on fillinggaps.