Interdental Brushes vs. Floss: Which Is Better for Your Teeth?

    interdental brushes
    1024 682 Golsen Family Dentistry

    Did you know that 47.2% of people over the age of 30 have oral gum and/or bone disease? Do you brush your teeth, but skip the flossing part? Do you visit your dentist regularly?

    Oral health is about more than having white teeth. Tooth and gum infections can lead to significant problems in your mouth. Experts now know that gum disease can lead to heart disease and even death.

    Cleaning between your teeth is at least as important as brushing. You now have the option of using floss or interdental brushes. If you have not heard of interdental brushes, keep reading this article to find out whether it’s worth giving a try. 

    Periodontal Disease

    Swelling and infections in the gums and jawbone result from periodontal diseases. At first, the gums are often swollen, red, and bleed easily. This stage is called gingivitis.

    When left untreated, the disease can spread. This can lead to tooth loss, heart disease, and even death.

    Our mouths normally have bacteria present to help with breaking down food. Yet, when the bacteria remain on the teeth, if forms a film called plaque. The plaque later becomes hardened into tartar which can spread below the gum line.

    Once the tartar is below the gum line, a dental professional must use special cleaning tools to remove it. Regular dental cleaning visits help to stop the periodontal disease process.

    This bacteria also combines with sugar in food to create acid. The acid damages the enamel of the tooth. This can cause thinning and holes that put the tooth at risk for cavities.

    Signs that you may have periodontal disease include:

    • A bad taste in your mouth
    • Bad breath
    • Swollen and/or red gums
    • Pain when chewing
    • Loose teeth and/or loss of teeth
    • Tooth sensitivity
    • Gums pulling away from your teeth
    • A change in the way retainers or partial dentures fit
    • Changes in the way your teeth meet when you bite

    Several factors can increase your risk of developing periodontal disease. Examples include:

    • Smoking
    • Diabetes
    • Not taking care of your mouth
    • Stress
    • Genetic factors
    • Misaligned teeth
    • Immune system problems
    • Old fillings that are failing
    • Improper fit of dental bridges
    • Pregnancy
    • Oral contraceptives

    Practicing good oral hygiene and visiting your dentist twice a year can decrease your chances of periodontal disease.

    Benefits of Flossing

    We have all been told that we should floss. Do you know why flossing is so important? Flossing helps prevent gingivitis from developing.

    Flossing removes pieces of food caught between your teeth and down in the gum line. Food left on the teeth leads to the build-up of plaque. When plaque remains on the teeth, it can cause tartar and gingivitis.

    Gingivitis often starts with swelling and bleeding of the gums. Flossing can help to decrease the swelling that may be the result of food particles left in the mouth.

    What Are Interdental Brushes?

    Interdental brushes are small brushes designed to clean between the teeth. Traditional toothbrushes alone only remove about 58% of plaque between your teeth. Combining the toothbrush and the interdental brush removes up to 95% of plaque.

    Interdental brushes come in several different styles. The I-shaped and L-shaped brushes have 2 types of bristles. The front bristles are thinner and the rear bristles are thicker. This decreases damage to the gums when inserting the brush between the teeth.

    Rubber interdental brushes are also available. This type can massage your gum as you clean between your teeth.

    Interdental brushes come in different sizes. This allows you to choose the size that best fits the gaps between your teeth.

    How Do You Use an Interdental Brush?

    Properly using an interdental brush helps remove food between your teeth. This decreases the development of plaque and gingivitis. Many individuals aren’t familiar with how to use an interdental brush.

    Begin by planning to use the interdental brush with one of your routine brushings each day. Select a brush that fits the space between your teeth. You may need more than one size as all teeth may not have the same spacing.

    Gently slide the brush between your teeth from the inside or outside. The brush should enter in the gap between your teeth and gum. Don’t force the brush.

    If you have trouble getting it into this gap, you may need to try a smaller brush. You can bend the brush as needed to make it easier to insert. Once inserted, rotate the brush to clean the area.

    Continue between each pair of teeth until all spaces have been clean. Don’t be alarmed if you see a little bleeding from your gums at first. As your gum health improves, this should stop.

    If you have continued problems with bleeding or difficulty using these brushes, talk to your dentist or dental hygienist. They can check your gums to ensure they are healthy. You can also practice and refine your technique under their supervision.

    Is Flossing Better Than Interdental Brushes?

    When trying to achieve the best oral health possible, should you choose flossing or interdental brushes? One research study evaluated flossing versus interdental brushes. They found that both methods were effective for decreasing gum bleeding and plaque between 4 and 12 weeks.

    The most important take away point is that brushing alone isn’t enough. Using either floss or interdental brushes significantly decreases plaque build-up between your teeth. This helps lower your risk of developing gingivitis and periodontal disease.

    Are You Taking Good Care of Your Mouth?

    This article emphasized that cleaning between your teeth helps decrease mouth and general health problems. Brushing your teeth with a traditional toothbrush is not enough. Adding flossing or interdental brushes to your routine once a day increases your oral health.

    Golsen Family Dentistry offers state-of-the-art dental services. We offer the newest laser and waterlase procedures. Beyond the high-tech aspects of our services, we work to provide exceptional patient comfort.

    Contact us today to ask questions and make an appointment at our Alpharetta, GA office.