It was with a little shock and horror that I awoke last week to the smell of burning floss, and the disturbing news that it all turns out to be a monumental waste of time. Or so it said in the Irish Independent, so it must be true.
But a little investigation drew my attention to the difficulties and complexities of interpreting studies that, by their very nature, are ambiguous. There are ethical problems with comparing two groups of people over a lifetime, while instructing half of them to never floss. And any dentist will tell you, when you ask patients if they floss, they tend to give you the answer they think you want to hear. So, the research is a little patchy, and can be summed up with the statement that “We lack strong evidence that flossing has a medical benefit”, which is not the same as “There is strong evidence that flossing is pointless”. And these studies don’t take into account all the other ways there are to clean between your teeth.
Anyway, it’s all moot, as I don’t floss; it’s fiddly, and normally ends up with bits on the bathroom mirror. But, critically, I do use something to clean between my teeth. Before I use my electric toothbrush, I use a Waterflosser (Waterpik or Philips Air flosser) and interdental brushes to clean between the teeth. They even now come in flexible wireless versions for the stab-free experience (Wisdom clean-between brushes).