Nursing Matters – get your patients involved this Flossuary!

Gemma Forsythe Nursing Matters

This month Gemma Forsythe discusses how and why to get your patients involved with Flossuary, the 28 day flossing challenge, including insight from the Flossuary founder, Liz Matthews.

New Year is a time when a lot of us want to set goals, resolutions, or improve on something.

This month, I want to discuss how Flossuary can be a good way to encourage our patients to improve their oral health. I feel like the start of a new year means people are more willing to try these things that will improve their health for them in the long run.

Flossuary is an event that happens every February and it exists to encourage people to clean interdentally for the full month of February.

It was set up by Liz Matthews, a dental hygienist, a few years back. This can be a very useful tool for dental nurses and oral health educators to encourage their patients to improve their oral health.

See and feel a difference

It is free to sign up at and you will receive a pack including a February calendar to tick off each day. It also has various interdental cleaning aids to start you off!

This is great because it also means patients can try a range of interdental cleaning aids. A lot of people struggle with floss and so find things such as interdental brushes or flossettes more effective for them.

On the Flossuary website you can download a poster, which can be put up in a dental practice waiting room or dental surgery. It has a QR code on it which patients can easily scan to sign up quickly and easily.

On the website, there are also very informative and useful instructional videos including how to use interdental brushes, how to floss and more!

After interdental cleaning for the month of February, patients will see and feel a difference in their gums.

Periodontitis and tooth loss are not the only risks with poor gum health. Poor gum health is linked to type two diabetes, heart disease, strokes, rheumatoid arthritis and more!

Therefore, interdental cleaning daily can help to prevent gum disease which lessens the risks of these conditions.

I spoke to Liz Matthews, founder of Flossuary. to find out more about it and how we can all get involved…

What drove you to start Flossuary?

I first came up with the idea as a fun way to motivate some non-compliant patients in the practice where I work.

I’d print instructions and information from my home computer, ask reps for samples and hand out packs in practice to try and get everyone having a go at cleaning between their teeth for February (Flossuary).

During the pandemic I was furloughed and giving out packs wasn’t possible for many reasons, so I looked into taking Flossuary online. I acquired a small amount of sponsorship from Tepe which allowed me to build a website and run Flossuary nationally, which I’ve done for the last two years.

What growth have you seen since the beginning of Flossuary?

For the first Flossuary in 2018 (just held in-house at the practice), I gave out 50 packs. Last year I distributed just over 500 packs all over the UK.

Each year my goal has always been to do more than the previous year, to just keep spreading these important messages a little bit further each time…and so far (fingers crossed) I have managed to do that!

Perhaps the nicest thing for me, though, is that I now go to dental conferences/courses and a lot of dental professionals have heard about Flossuary and use it with their patients.

I also see whole practices taking part and posting on their social media which is great!

How does it feel to be able to provide the motivation and tools to patients to encourage interdental cleaning daily?

As dental professionals, we know that the majority of periodontal disease is preventable. But many people don’t understand how periodontal problems develop, how to prevent them, and the impact that poor gum health may have on our overall systemic health.

As a dental hygienist of almost 20 years, I feel that if more people knew about this, we could avoid some of the heart-breaking situations we see daily! So this was my attempt at spreading our important health messages just a bit further.

Running Flossuary takes a lot of time and a tiny budget makes things difficult. But just seeing my fellow DHT’s and other dental professionals using Flossuary with their patients really is so encouraging.

I often get messages of support from people, sometimes success stories, sometimes members of the public, just saying they’ve learnt something! But that’s what really makes it worth doing.

Is there anything more dental professionals can do to promote this event to their patients?

Yes! Please, everyone, get involved. All you need to do is invite your patients to visit and enter their details before 25 January.

They will then receive a free Flossuary pack in the post which contains:

  • Instructions on interdental cleaning and why it’s important
  • A 28-day tick chart to help keep them motivated
  • Some samples of interdental cleaning aids to try.

They’ll then be ready to join in on the 1 Flossuary (February) and see if they can complete all 28 days. They can follow motivational posts on Instagram and Facebook throughout February if they wish too. It’s really just about getting everyone to have a go!

Dental professionals can register in the healthcare professional section and access support materials for their practice.

Here, they can see the pack that the patient receives as well as download posters, QR codes etc to make it easy for patients to sign up.

If anyone has any questions or would like to get in touch, please email me at [email protected] or you can send a message through the website (

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