05 Jun 2017

Interdental brushing has overtaken traditional floss as the preferred way in which Brits clean in-between their teeth, research as part of oral health campaign National Smile Month has revealed.

The poll, conducted by the Oral Health Foundation, found more than a third of British adults now choose interdental brushes (34%) to clean in between their teeth, surpassing traditional floss (31%) for the first time. The other methods which were favoured included floss tape (17%), floss harps (12%) and waterjets (7%) such as the Phillips AirFloss.

Nearly two in three now clean between their teeth regularly (62%), which is more than three times higher than the figure reported in 2007 (19%).

Dr Nigel Carter, CEO of the Oral Health Foundation, said the findings demonstrate the UK’s growing interest in oral health and hygiene and explains why interdental cleaning is important.

Dr Carter said: “The stereotype of Brits having ‘bad teeth’ is very much a thing of the past. As a population, we have become much more health conscious, which extends far beyond our general health and wellbeing, to now include the role which the health of our mouth plays within this too.

“In recent years’ gum disease has been linked with general health conditions such as diabetes, strokes, cardiovascular disease, poor pregnancy outcomes and even dementia so the importance of looking after the health of our gums through a good oral hygiene routine is even more important than ever.

“Brushing alone only cleans three of the five surfaces of our teeth, so cleaning between them is a critical part of good oral hygiene as it helps to prevent gum disease by removing plaque from areas the toothbrush alone cannot reach.

“We have also found that cleaning in between teeth is particularly important for groups such as the elderly, the very young and those with auto-immune disease, all of who are more susceptible to infections from the bacteria in the mouth.”

A recent investigation by the Associated Press said there was no definitive evidence that dental floss prevents caries or gum disease, labelling the evidence for flossing as ‘weak, very unreliable’ and of ‘very low’ quality.

“For some time the recommendation in the UK has been to use interdental brushes rather than floss as the evidence for their effectiveness is stronger,” added Dr Carter.

“While there is no suggestion that flossing can be damaging to oral health, there is limited evidence as to its effectiveness. If you are flossing, and flossing well, it will cause no harm and it is probably not advisable to give up but you might want to try interdental brushes as an alternative.”

The poll as part of National Smile Month, a campaign to engage and educate more people about the importance of a healthy mouth, discovered almost half of Brits clean in between their teeth every day (46%), with nearly a quarter of those doing so multiple times a day (12%).

National Smile Month, is sponsored by Oral-B and takes place between 15 May and 15 June. The charity campaign will see thousands of dental and health professionals go out into local communities across the country in a bid to improve brushing habits, education around diet and the dangers of added sugars, and the importance of regular dental visits.

The charity campaign is also being supported by some of the nation’s best-known brands and retailers including Wrigley’s Extra, POLO® Sugar Free, Philips and Regenerate.