London: Flossing is supposedly done to get rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth, which if left to fester, can cause inflammation and disease.
But flossing requires a high level of dexterity and if wrongly done, will do more harm than good, according to Robin Seymour, emeritus professor of dental sciences at Newcastle University, the Daily Mail reported.
Instead of removing plaque, most people end up pushing the plaque between their teeth down underneath the gums and leaving it there.
Another common error is using a sawing action to drag the floss back and forth. This does not remove plaque effectively but it can traumatise the gums.
"I think a far better approach is to brush thoroughly, ideally with a powered toothbrush, then use an interspace or interdental brush to clean between the teeth and finish off with an alcohol-free mouthwash," Seymour was quoted as saying.
Antiseptic mouthwashes have been shown to be particularly beneficial for cleaning between the teeth.
"Using a mouthwash is going to be as good as flossing, and as most also contain fluoride there are additional benefits in terms of protecting teeth from decay," Seymour added.
"I would always advise using an alcohol-free mouthwash as there is no benefit to alcohol in terms of efficacy but there is a potential risk of oral cancer," he warned.
Look for a mouthwash which contains cetylpyridinium chloride or CPC. It binds to proteins in the mouth and creates a protective lining which can continue working for up to 12 hours.
There are around 500 different types of bacteria in the mouth and some are more sensitive to certain antibacterial agents, so a mouthwash which contains both CPC and essential oils, like the Dentyl Active range, is ideal.