The reason why your dentist tells you to floss is simply to protect your dental health by getting rid of pieces of food and plaque from between your teeth.
If left to fester, this debris can build up - irritating the gums, causing inflammation and, ultimately, disease.
Don't get me wrong - if you floss correctly, it's a fantastic way of getting rid of the plaque between teeth and underneath the gums.
But flossing requires a high level of dexterity to manipulate the floss in the mouth, particularly towards the back of the mouth and the vast majority of people simply don't have that degree of dexterity.
Instead of removing plaque, too many people are simply pushing the plaque that is between their teeth down underneath the gums and leaving it there which is the last thing you want to do.
Another common error is using a sawing action to drag the floss back and forth. This doesn't remove plaque effectively, but it can traumatise the gums.
The other big problem with flossing is compliance.
It doesn't seem to matter how many times dentists and dental hygienists advise people to floss, the reality is that only about 17 per cent of adults do it on a regular basis, say three or four times a week.
And of that 17 per cent, some will not be doing it properly anyway. Flossing is difficult to do, and difficult to do well, so we have to start looking at alternatives.
I think a far better approach is to brush thoroughly, ideally with a powered toothbrush, then use an inter-space or inter-dental brush to clean between the teeth and finish off with an alcohol-free mouthwash.
Antiseptic mouthwashes have been shown to be particularly beneficial for cleaning between the teeth.
They require a little bit of instruction, it is important to swish the solution around the mouth and use your tongue to push it between the teeth but they have the advantage of being much easier to use than floss.
We also have information from six-month studies to show that compliance is pretty good.
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.
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.
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.
Both ingredients have proven antibacterial action, but they work in different ways and target different bacteria, with the CPC attacking newly forming plaque and the essential oils tackling more stubborn deposits.
There is also evidence that the two antibacterials work together synergistically.
The cell walls of bacteria are largely made up of fatty substances known as lipids, and the essential oils, being lipid soluble, can readily penetrate them and enhance the uptake of CPC.
Another advantage of mouthwashes like Dentyl Active is that they stain the debris and plaque so when you spit the mouthwash out, you can clearly see what has been removed.
This encourages better brushing by showing how much plaque was missed, while providing the reassurance that it has been removed.