healthHealth and Medicinehealthhealth

You’re Probably Not Flossing Your Teeth Properly

See the light. Welcome AHVFT into your life.


Rachael Funnell


Rachael Funnell

Digital Content Producer

Rachael is a writer and digital content producer at IFLScience with a Zoology degree from the University of Southampton, UK, and a nose for novelty animal stories.

Digital Content Producer

a person flossing their teeth

Are you only flossing back and forth? Come now, there's a better way...

Image credit: WAYHOME studio /

Flossing – of the dental variety – is one of the most mundane parts of a person’s day, but any dentist will tell you it’s vital to maintaining good oral hygiene. Unfortunately, it seems a lot of us are probably doing it wrong, as new research has revealed a vastly superior flossing technique: AHVFT.

The average flossing session sees a person move either an interdental brush or dental floss either back and forth or up and down. The adapted horizontal vertical flossing technique (AHVFT) combines horizontal flossing with vertical so that the areas between the teeth and slightly up into the gum are targeted for plaque removal.


Plaque removal is so important because buildup is a precursor to gum disease like gingivitis, which is considered to be the earliest stage. As plaque and bacteria build-up, they can cause infection, and common symptoms include swelling, redness, and bleeding while brushing.

Bleeding was a symptom used as a marker of dental health in this AHVFT trial, which enrolled non-smoking participants who had gingivitis but were otherwise healthy. They were then split into two groups; one continued on their daily dental hygiene routine as normal, while the other was instructed on how to incorporate the AHVFT flossing technique into theirs.

The participants’ gums were prodded at two-, four-, and eight-week intervals to test for bleeding on probing (BoP), which is considered an indicator of gum disease. By the end of the study, the BoP scores revealed that those who had used AHVFT had a 70 percent reduction in gum bleeding, while the other group saw only a 30 percent reduction.

Anyone who’s had braces will tell you that taking the time to floss in multiple directions can be tiresome, but it seems that the proof is in the BoP pudding as it can considerably reduce markers of gum disease, even when it’s only practiced once a day. For something as non-invasive as flossing, investing in your oral hygiene is time well spent, as its benefits can go well beyond the mouth.


Early gum disease like gingivitis is curable, but if it progresses it can lead to irreversible disease resulting in tooth loss. There’s also a growing body of evidence that suggests gum disease can contribute to your risk of developing other serious health conditions, too.

Alzheimer’s and cardiovascular disease have both been connected to gum disease, as has type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Genetics can play a role in a person’s risk of developing gum disease, but small lifestyle tweaks like inviting AHVFT into your daily routine can still significantly improve your chances of maintaining a healthy mouth and tooth-filled smile.

The study is published in the Journal Of Dental Hygiene.

[H/T: Futurism]


healthHealth and Medicinehealthhealth
  • tag
  • teeth,

  • health,

  • flossing,

  • oral health,

  • dental floss,

  • dental disease