Interdental Brush vs. Floss: Which is Better?
Cleaning between your teeth each day is one of the most valuable things you can do for the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
If your routine focuses only on brushing, you’re missing out on an absolutely critical aspect of oral health care, because it allows plaque to develop in areas a toothbrush just can’t reach.
When it comes to this essential practice, there are two most popular methods: flossing and interdental brushing. Which is the right choice for you?
Keep reading, and we’ll explore the pros and cons of each, while offering guidance to help you decide on the best method of interdental cleaning.
Advantages of flossing
- Remove plaque: Flossing helps get rid of plaque and its bacteria that form between your teeth by gliding smoothly between teeth.
- Eliminate food remnants: Flossing clears the spaces between your teeth of food, which can fester and provide harmful bacteria with the nutrition they need to grow.
- Prevent cavities: Flossing helps prevent the formation of cavities – tiny holes in the enamel of your teeth – by removing plaque particularly in areas your toothbrush can’t reach.
- Keep away gingivitis: Flossing helps prevent gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease.
Cons of flossing
- Difficult: Flossing can be difficult because it requires manoeuvring your hands inside your mouth and ensuring the floss reaches the right spots without harming your gums. If you have large or shaky hands, this can make flossing a struggle.
- Takes time: Properly flossing, reaching the gumline between each tooth, can be time-consuming. The effectiveness of your flossing relies on you reaching every spot. People often rush and diminish their efforts with improper technique.
- Discomfort: If you use floss incorrectly, flossing can cause bleeding and discomfort by harming your gums. This can get better over time while you learn using floss, but some people continue to face mild discomfort for the long term. Wrapping floss tightly around the fingers can also be uncomfortable.
- Flossing with braces: Flossing can be hard to do with braces and wires or other orthodontic appliances. Leading to ineffective form or incomplete coverage.
Interdental brushes or rubber interdental picks
Interdental cleaners may not be as popular as traditional floss, but they are catching on as an effective flossing alternative.
In patients suffering from gum diseases, interdental brushes are even more efficacious than floss in the interdental spaces created by the gum retraction. Many people love interdentals because they are easy to use and achieve a “cleaner” feeling compared to flossing.
Advantages of interdental cleaners
- Remove plaque: Interdental cleaners are highly effective at removing plaque and its bacteria from in between the teeth and along the gumline.
- Eliminate food remnants: Using an interdental cleaner can help you remove food between your teeth, which help bacteria to grow and can even cause halitosis.
- Prevent cavities: Like flossing, interdental cleaning helps prevent the formation of cavities, especially in areas that aren’t easily reached by your toothbrush.
- Keep away gingivitis: Like flossing, interdental cleaning helps to keep gingivitis and gum disease at bay.
- Easy to use: Interdental cleaners – sized to your preferences and to your interdental spaces – are extremely easy to use. They work as a tiny hand-held brush you move in and out between your teeth where you can pass an interdental cleaner (without forcing it in).
- Comfortable hold: Interdental cleaners have a tiny handle and sometimes a small pick at the end which makes them easy to hold and great at getting in between teeth.
Cons of interdental cleaners
- Learning curve: If you haven’t used interdental cleaners before, you may not know where to start in using them effectively. However, once you get it down, you may find it easier and faster than flossing.
- Discomfort: First-time interdental users can find the small interdental cleaners uncomfortable, especially if they are used to flossing and/or invest in the wrong size. It may be best to start small and work up to the right size for you. Being gentle is key. Never force a brush in.
- Reaching tight spaces: When teeth are tightly bunched together or you’re trying to reach an extremely small space, floss can sometimes be the best solution.
- Costs: Interdental cleaners can entail more up-front cost than a roll of floss, although the cleaners are reusable so they often end up providing better value in the long run.