Flossing is an essential step toward good dental health. Daily flossing removes plaque from between the teeth, where brushes cannot reach. If the plaque is not removed, it can form cavities and cause bad breath and gingivitis. Cleaning the teeth once a day with either floss or floss brushes can prevent these problems by eliminating bacteria and food particles before they form plaque.
Regular dental floss made of flexible plastic or nylon filaments, can certainly do the trick, but can be difficult to hold and comes in only one size. Patients with periodontal disease or braces may also find traditional flossing cumbersome and even painful. Luckily, there is an alternative to dental floss that is easy to use, effective and comfortable.
What is the alternative?
Floss brushes, also known as interdentally brushes, clean the teeth using nylon brushes attached to a plastic handle. The brushes may be conical or tapered and are available in a wide range of sizes. Most brushes are coated with plastic or nylon, making them safe to use on all teeth, including implants. Some interdentally brushes are even treated with antimicrobial agents, making them even more effective against harmful bacteria.
A Variety of Sizes
Unlike regular dental floss, interdentally brushes are available in a wide range of sizes. The gaps between the teeth vary per person, and your dentist can recommend the right sizes for you. The brush should move through the gaps between the teeth comfortably and should never feel forced. When the correct size is used, the patient should feel no discomfort.
Flossing the teeth in the back of the mouth is important because these teeth do most of the chewing and are therefore most at risk for harboring food particles and bacteria. Traditional dental floss, held between the forefingers and thumbs, is difficult to manipulate between the back teeth. This inadequate technique allows plaque to form easily between the teeth and puts patients at risk for cavities and gum disease.
Interdental brushes are attached to flexible rubber handles, making it easier to access hard-to-reach places.
Improved Gum Health
The brushes, like regular dental floss, remove food debris and bacteria from between the teeth and underneath the gums, reducing the risk of developing gum disease. However, interdental brushes also massage the gums as they clean, which promote better overall gum health.
Dental floss is used once then tossed in the trash, but interdental brushes can be used again and again, just like a toothbrush. Using the brush carefully and rinsing it after each use can extend the life of each brush to up to a week.
Appropriate for People with Braces
For people with braces, using dental floss to clean between the teeth can be difficult, if not impossible. Interdental brushes, in contrast, are easy to use around wires and brackets to prevent the buildup of plaque.
- According to the journal Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, only 10 to 21 percent of Americans floss daily (http://www.dimensionsofdentalhygiene.com/ddhright.aspx?id=640#.UCQaA2NWq2U).
- A study published by the New York State Dental Association found that nearly 40 percent of people do not use proper technique when flossing.