Effects of flossing on plaque and gingivitis in third grade schoolchildren

J Public Health Dent. 1989 Spring;49(2):73-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-7325.1989.tb02029.x.


The purpose of this investigation was to determine whether flossing, as an adjunct to toothbrushing, performed in a school-based program can contribute significantly to a reduction in gingivitis. Four volunteer third grade classrooms (n = 112) were randomly assigned to finger-floss, looped-floss, flossholder, and brushing-only control group. Measures taken at baseline and in four weeks included gingival (GI), plaque (PI), and flossing dexterity indices (FDI). Results using ANOVA showed no differences in PI among groups. However, both brushing-only and finger-floss groups showed GI scores significantly lower than the looped-floss group. A repeated measures ANOVA revealed that the finger-floss group improved gingivitis scores most over time, while the flossholder group improved scores the least. The ANCOVA results with FDI showed that at the final measurement, looped-floss manual dexterity was rated significantly better than finger-floss and that both groups were rated better than flossholder. Final indications are that toothbrushing alone can produce clinical results similar to use of a combination of toothbrushing and flossing.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Dental Devices, Home Care*
  • Dental Plaque / prevention & control*
  • Dental Plaque Index
  • Female
  • Gingivitis / prevention & control*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Motor Skills
  • Oral Hygiene
  • Periodontal Index
  • School Dentistry*
  • Toothbrushing