To floss or not to floss: the big flossing falsehood

We know we’re supposed to do it every day; but let’s face it, no-one really wants to be faced with yucky lumps of old food that stick onto the dental floss, more often than not there will be blood, and it all just seems like too much effort for not much reward.

Flossing falsehood SUS-151110-133357001
Flossing falsehood SUS-151110-133357001

Dentists, of course, know better: regular flossing removes plaque - a mix of bacteria and saliva - which, if left untouched, can harden into tartar. The bacteria can cause inflammation of the gums, also known as periodontal disease, which left untreated can lead to receding gums, tooth decay, and even tooth loss.

So you’d think us Brits would be a bit smarter about looking after our teeth. However, new dental app, Dentists Near Me, recently surveyed 1,000 adults to find out how they really feel about flossing.

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Dentists Near Me helps users find their nearest NHS or private dental clinic, and then read reviews and look at service and price comparisons for a range of general, cosmetic and specialist treatments. Hopefully, professional flossing is among them, because well over a third of us - 40.6 per cent - never floss at all. And of those, the biggest culprits are 18 - 24 year olds; 55 per cent of them simply don’t do it.

However, it seems that many of us are keen to try and convince our own dentist that we are actually looking after our teeth, just in case they judge us too harshly: nearly a third of us - 31.2 per cent - lie to them about how much flossing we do! And it’s the grownups who should know better - those aged 35 - 44 - who lie the most, with 38.6 per cent of them telling massive flossing fibs.

But 18 - 24 year olds are the second biggest fibbers; 35.2 per cent of them pretend they’re flossing when they’re not, and clearly just don’t think - or care - about the perils of gum disease at all.

Dr Mo Mobasseri, principal at Wimpole Dental in London, said, “Patients often act rather sheepish when we discuss flossing and I suspect many exaggerate how many times they actually do it. We always try to demonstrate how it should be done as this is key to achieving optimum results.”

So what’s putting us off? Admittedly, a lot of us (16.3 per cent) aren’t exactly sure how to do it properly, but a significant 15.6 per cent of us don’t actually believe it improves our gum health. This stat will probably have dentists crying into their spittoons, along with the fact that nearly a third of us claim we’re just too tired to do it.

This survey follows on from a US study by the American Academy of Periodontology whose results were not dissimilar; 27 per cent of American adults lie to their dentists. And 14 per cent of Americans would rather clean the toilet than floss. But the benefits of flossing can be huge, and the process is actually pretty straightforward. So next time you see your dentist, ask him or her to give you a proper demonstration or look up a new one on Dentists Near Me by clicking here.

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