You might feel as though brushing alone can provide a sufficient clean, but that's not the case. A toothbrush can only reach 60% of teeth surfaces. By using floss, you can reach and clean the tight gaps a toothbrush can't. But how important is flossing? What alternatives are there?
Importance of Flossing
As mentioned by the British Dental Association (BDA), cleaning interdentally is very important. To add to this, the NHS states that flossing can reduce gum disease and bad breath. This is achieved by removing the plaque that forms around the gum line. Left untreated, plaque build up can result in tooth decay, gum disease and tooth loss.
Another benefit of flossing is that it can minimise bad breath. This is because plaque build up is the most common cause of bad breath. By removing the plaque that would otherwise remain untouched, floss can freshen breath.
To put it simply, any good oral care routine will include interdental cleaning. This is most commonly achieved by using floss. Mouthwash and brushing can't clean interdentally, therefore, should not be substituted for floss.
Is Flossing More Important Than Brushing?
Brushing twice a day and flossing daily is a pivotal part of any oral care routine. You really shouldn't be picking one over the other. But let's say, hypothetically speaking, you could only floss or brush. Which would you choose?
Studies show that a toothbrush can reach 60% of teeth surfaces. Therefore, statistically speaking, brushing can clean more surfaces than flossing. Thus, brushing could be considered more important than flossing.
However, that is still 40% of tooth surfaces that end up not being cleaned. That's a lot of areas that plaque can build up, which could eventually cause tooth decay. So, if you're thinking about solely brushing, don't!
What Can I Use Instead of Floss?
We get it. Floss isn't for everyone. We know that flossing can be especially difficult if you have braces or limited finger dexterity. Fortunately, there are other options on the market. The two most common alternatives to floss are:
- Interdental Brushes - Utilises small bristled heads to reach the small gaps a toothbrush can't. Sizes range from ISO 00 (0.35mm) to over ISO 8 (1.5mm). Interdental brushes are easier to use compared to floss. People with braces may prefer using interdental brushes. Also, many studies have shown that interdental brushes are the most effective interdental cleaning tool due to their superior plaque removal ability.
- Water Flossers - Uses a pressurised stream of water to remove plaque between teeth. Some studies show that using a water flosser may be more effective than traditional floss. Additionally, water flossers may be easier to use compared to traditional floss. However, traditional floss is more than capable of providing a through interdental clean. If using traditional floss works for you, there's not really a reason to change. Water flossers are also significantly more expensive.
Flossing is important. Very important. Daily flossing is crucial for a strong oral care routine. If you choose not to floss, 40% of teeth surfaces can't be cleaned. If you're struggling to use floss, consider using interdental brushes or water flossers. Read our blog on interdental brushes and floss if you are struggling to make a decision between the two.