How Often Do You Really Need To Floss?

by Lindsey Rose Black

If you religiously floss your teeth after every meal, it might not be as useful as you think at preventing plaque and gingivitis. It turns out, there is some serious debate over how often you really need to floss and whether or not it's even necessary at all. For lazy flossers like me, I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little happy about this news.

On team "flossing could be unnecessary" are researchers at Inholland University for Applied Sciences in Amsterdam and Dr Ellie Phillips. The researchers told Forbes their study published in the NCBI revealed that their subjects "did not show a benefit for floss on plaque and clinical parameters of gingivitis. [As a result,] routine instruction to use floss is not supported by scientific evidence." Similarly, Dr. Ellie Phillips told Daily Mail that regularly using mouthwash and chewing gum with xylitol is more effective than flossing to remove potentially harmful plaque.

Dentists on the opposing side argue that flossing isn't less effective than mouth wash and xylitol gum, it's simply a bit tedious to do correctly. Christina Chatfield, an independent dental hygienist, explained to Daily Mail, "The majority of those who do use floss (which I believe to be around five per cent of the population), don’t use it effectively, so it is of minimal benefit to them." Backing up Chatfield, Alex Naini, DDS, shared on Dr. Oz, "In between teeth, food, bacteria, and plaque only come off with flossing [and you should] floss every twenty-four hours."

Whether you prefer mouthwash, gum, or floss, below are some tips to keep your smile in top shape.

1. Use Several Mouthwashes

Cool Mint Antiseptic Mouthwash, $5, Amazon

Dr. Ellie Phillips advised on DailyMail to use "Ultradex mouthwash before brushing, which...contains chlorine dioxide." Then, after brushing your teeth, reach for "Listerine to enhance the cleaning process." Lastly, finish off with "a fluoride rinse such as Fluorigard to help strengthen and repair teeth."

2. Floss Correctly

Oral-B Protection Floss, $6, Amazon

"To remove plaque," Chatfield shared, "you need to hook the floss like a C around the tooth, so it hooks out the plaque from between the contact points of the teeth."

3. Chew High-Xylitol Gum

Peppermint Xylitol Gum, $8, Amazon

As explained by Dr. Ellie Phillips DDS, "When plaque bacteria absorb xylitol, they cannot multiply, produce acids, or stick to teeth." Opt for gum with xylitol as one of the first ingredients listed to know you're getting a sufficient amount to be effective!

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