Advantages and disadvantages of flossing

Flossing is considered an essential oral hygiene practice by most dentists for removing plaque between teeth and protecting gum health. However, some people view flossing as tedious, while media reports have questioned its benefits versus potential harms.

Keeping the spaces between your teeth clean is important for maintaining healthy gums and preventing tooth decay. That’s why techniques like flossing should be included in every dental care routine – whether you currently have gum disease or your gums are in tip-top shape. 

Your dentist may recommend floss in particular for areas with no gum recession yet, since improperly using pointy interdental brushes there could lead to tissue irritation or even accidentally make spaces bigger over time.

Getting professional guidance on the safest, most effective way to floss at home is so valuable for lowering your risk of gum disease down the road.

Let’s look at the merits and limitations of flossing in more detail:

Advantages and disadvantages of flossing

Pros and Cons of Daily Flossing

The Advantages of Flossing

Flossing offers several benefits for your oral and overall health when done properly:

  • It cleans the 40% of tooth surfaces located between teeth that brushing misses. Brushing cleans only outer surfaces.
  • Flossing removes plaque, debris, and bacteria below the gumline and between teeth to prevent decay and gum inflammation in these unreachable areas.
  • Studies show flossing paired with brushing provides the most significant reduction in oral bacteria, gingivitis, and bleeding. Flossing maximizes cleaning.
  • It stimulates gums, improves blood circulation, and keeps tissues healthy by disrupting biofilm between teeth.
  • Flossing can reduce bad breath by removing decaying food particles brushing cannot reach.
  • It can dislodge trapped food debris between teeth before decay sets in. Brushing alone often leaves particles behind.
  • Flossing helps prevent buildup of calculus (tartar) between teeth that can only be removed via professional cleaning.

With proper technique, flossing should not damage tissue or enamel. Benefits clearly outweigh any risks.

The Potential Disadvantages of Flossing

Flossing does come with a few cons that cause some to say it’s bad. They include:

  • It can be difficult to perform for those with impaired dexterity due to conditions like arthritis or Parkinson’s. However, flossing tools can help.
  • Skipping hard-to-reach back molars is tempting, but missing any area compromises effectiveness.
  • Doing it too roughly and improperly risks gum cuts or injury. Gentle technique minimizes this.
  • It can cause temporary gum bleeding at first. This quickly improves with daily flossing.
  • Some find it time consuming compared to simply brushing. But it takes just a couple minutes once established in your routine.
  • If not done, the lack of interdental cleaning causes gum disease progression and tooth decay risk. Infrequent flossing gives limited benefits.

Overall, when performed properly, the dental health advantages of flossing far outweigh any disadvantages. Taking the time to floss thoroughly each day optimizes the health of your mouth, teeth and gums for the long haul.

Tips for Maximizing Flossing Benefits

Follow these tips to get the most from your daily flossing sessions:

  • Use a soft, silky floss that slides smoothly between tight teeth.
  • Take your time and don’t rush. Ensure you hit all areas.
  • Floss before brushing to clear out debris so toothpaste can better penetrate.
  • Move floss up and down each side of teeth, not roughly between contacts. Gently hug contours.
  • Carefully floss any dental work like brackets, bridges, implants or crowns.
  • Choose flossers or water flossers if dexterity challenges make traditional flossing difficult.
  • Watch technique videos to ensure proper form that avoids tissue damage.
  • See your dentist regularly to maximize benefits and adjust any issues.
  • Consider floss colors that help identify plaque between teeth.

Frequently Asked Questions

When is the best time to floss?

Dentists often advise patients to floss both before AND after brushing, since flossing first may help dislodge debris so your toothpaste can work its magic even better.

How often should you floss?

Something to keep in mind is that flossing fewer than once a day seems to make developing gum disease more likely. So staying on top of daily flossing is key for keeping your smile healthy!

What are some alternatives to flossing?

Some alternatives to traditional flossing include water swishing, interdental brushes, and oral irrigation devices like water flossers.

What oral issues can be prevented by flossing?

Flossing helps prevent gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis), cavities between teeth, bad breath, and the buildup of plaque and tartar.

Can I reuse dental floss, or should it be discarded after a single use?

Dental floss is designed for single-use only. Reusing it is not recommended, as it can harbor harmful bacteria and lose its effectiveness. To maintain proper oral hygiene, use a fresh piece of floss for each session.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is keeping those gaps between pearly whites plaque-free with regular flossing (and interdental cleaners where appropriate) is a simple way to keep your mouth happy. Be sure to ask your dentist to demonstrate proper technique tailored to your unique needs!

Take advantage of flossing’s unique interdental cleaning power. Combine it with daily brushing and any recommended cleaners for the most effective and complete oral hygiene routine possible. Your teeth and gums will thank you!


  • Editorial team

    A team comprising oral health care professionals, researchers, and professional Writers, striving to impart you with the knowledge to improve your oral health, and that of your loved ones. 

  • Lilly

    Lilly, aka, Liza Lee, is a passionate community oral health officer and our lead writer. She's not only well-versed in performing a multitude of dental procedures, including preventive, restorative, and cosmetic, but also an avid writer. Driven by the significant oral health burden all around her, Lilly strives to build capacity and promote oral health. She envisions making a lasting impact by advancing research, prevention, and promotion efforts to alleviate oral health disparities. Please share your views and opinions on my posts.

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