Everywhere where we go, dentists almost always tell us to floss once a day after brushing our teeth. They tell us, over and over, how it’s not enough to just brush our teeth, and that if we want to maintain our oral health, we should floss. However, the truth is that not everyone is comfortable with flossing. No matter what you say or how you say it, they will probably never even think about buying a floss if they can help it.
In addition, a recent report made by Associated Press contradicts what we know about dental flossing. According to the report, there is no scientific evidence that proves the effectiveness of flossing. This is why the US Department of Health has removed the recommendation of dental floss from their dental health guidelines. Since we’ve been told to floss ever since we can remember, this report not only brought shock to us but to the dental community as well. Fortunately, there is another option. Dentists recommend interdental brushes now as an alternative.
Due to some more recent reports, some people claim that interdental brushes are better than floss by a mile. Let’s find out the truth of their claims by examining the similarities and differences between the two dental equipment.
A string of dental floss is essentially a cord of thin filaments. It is used to clean and remove food, bacteria, and dental plaque from in-between your teeth, and other places that a toothbrush can’t reach. For years it has become a regular piece of equipment used to maintain oral health. According to dentists, the use of floss helps prevent gingivitis as well as the build-up of plaque.
The use of dental floss can remove up to 80% of plaque, according to the American Dental Association. It has also been found out that flossing is especially beneficial to people with orthodontic devices. However, recent empirical scientific evidence and reports also say that the benefit of flossing is limited.
Dental professionals have recommended the use of floss once a day after brushing. According to them, flossing helps to clean the areas that the brush cannot, as well as allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to seep in-between the teeth.
Floss usually comes in plastic dispensers. Every dispenser contains around 10 to 100 meters of floss. About 40 cm of floss should be pulled out against a blade in the dispenser in every use. To use it, string the floss between your fingers using both hands. Expose about 1–2 cm, and guide it between each pair of teeth. Gently curve the piece against the side of a tooth and guide it under the gumline, as well. This should serve to remove the tiniest particles of food stuck between your teeth. It should also help you remove dental plaque.
However much we believe in flossing, however, a recent study conducted by the University of British Columbia does present some facts about flossing that may prove to be concerning. The conclusions of their study were published in the Canadian Journal of Dental Hygiene, and it included something about how dental patients rarely use dental floss. While it’s true that it does not mention anything about the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of this dental equipment, it is also relevant to mention that if it was both effective and efficient, a lot more people would have elected to use them.
The word “interdental” refers to the space in between the teeth. As such, an interdental brush is a piece of dental equipment that is designed to help people to clean the sides of their teeth as well as the spaces between no matter how tight or wide the spaces are. An interdental brush’s bristles are held on by a wire which is attached to a shorter toothbrush handle. Interdental brushes come in different bristles and wire sizes. What you buy should depend on the size of your teeth gap. Much the same as the floss, these are also extremely helpful for people with orthodontic devices. Some of the brushes are even specifically designed for them.
To use this equipment, you need to insert the brush gently between your teeth and then move the brush softly back and forth. The gentle movements should serve to remove food particles and bacteria in your teeth, which can cause plaque and tartar.
Dental Floss vs. Interdental Brushes
While both dental floss and interdental brushes help in reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease, it’s also true that there are striking differences between the two. Here are some advantages to each, though. This should help you make up your mind on whether one is better than the other.
The advantages of an interdental brush
- It is more effective at removing food particles and bacteria from between teeth
- It is a lot easier to use, especially for people with limited hand and finger dexterity
- It effectively navigates in-between braces and wires
- It is more expensive than a dental floss
- Interdental brushes significantly reduce bleeding sites
The advantages of a dental floss
- It is cheaper than an interdental brush
- It is excellent when it comes to fitting very tight spaces. However, it causes tearing and irritation on the exit.
- It is quite time-consuming to clean your teeth tooth by tooth
- It is more difficult to use for people with braces.
To wrap it up…
If you are one of those people who doesn’t feel overly eager to run a thread all over every tooth they own, you should try the interdental brush. Just make sure to choose one to supply your teeth-brushing routine to help you maintain your healthy teeth.
To help you decide, you should know that for people who use dental floss, there is still around a third of their teeth that remain unreachable. This is why even though patients floss, they still arrive in dental clinics with gingivitis.
In addition, it has been found out in recent studies that colorimetric probe, along with interdental brushes is still better than the use of interdental brushing alone. Since all root morphologies and interdental spaces are different, interdental brushes or dental flosses will never successfully fit all spaces, too. As such, a colorimetric probe is needed to determine the interdental space size to ensure optimal biofilm removal.
After all, brushing our teeth only cleans about 60% of our tooth surface. Adding a flossing routine or using an interdental brush in addition to regular teeth brushing should help take better care of our teeth so we can maintain our oral health.