Dr Ben Atkins BDS



Dr Ben Atkins BDS

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Dental Education


5th August 2016

All of a sudden, flossing became the hot topic of the week!

It started when the Daily Mail published an article . The article suggested research had show that flossing provided no benefit to oral healthcare. It was based on some studies in the USA and it certainly put the cat amongst the pigeons!

The broadcast media inundated the Oral Healthcare Foundation with requests to discuss flossing on air.

So I spent almost 24 hours starting with Phil Williams on Radio 5 Live’s late night show through to Channel Four News the following evening, via Talk Sport, Talk Radio, ITV, BBC 24 hour News; and Sky News!

Everyone wanted to know if flossing was dead!

This was how BBC News 24 covered the story

The answer, of course, is no it isn’t. But equally, no one has ever suggested that flossing was a silver bullet. Good oral healthcare is about doing a combination of things, ideally twice a day. These include using an electric toothbrush if possible. Using fluoride toothpaste – which is not expensive. And using interdental brushes to clean between your teeth supported by flossing where it may not be possible to use the small brushes.

The evidence is inconclusive. Used correctly (and many people don’t) floss can remove plaque from your teeth and food from between them. Floss should be used with an up and down movement rather than with a sawing movement.

So the media had their day, and I’m grateful. Anything that keeps good oral healthcare in the public eye is positive. The wider the debate, the more our profession and our leading charities get the chance to keep reinforcing best practice.