Interdental Brushes vs. Flossing: Understanding the Differences and Benefits

young woman learning how to use an interdental brush at the dentist

“Interdental” means between the teeth. An interdental brush helps you clean the sides of your teeth and between your teeth, no matter how tight or wide the space is. The bristles on an interdental brush adhere with wire and come shaped somewhat like those on a mascara wand. The wire is attached to a handle that looks like a toothbrush handle but is often shorter. Brushes come in different bristle and wire sizes according to the size of the teeth gap they fit, and some come specially designed for use with orthodontic braces.

Teeth brushing alone cleans 60% of your tooth surfaces. Adding a flossing routine or using interdental brushes in addition to regular teeth brushing will help you better care for your teeth and oral health. To use an interdental brush, insert the brush gently between two teeth and softly move the brush back and forth to remove any food particles and bacteria that can cause plaque and tartar.

Benefits of Both

Cleaning between teeth eliminates plaque that leads to cavities, tartar, gingivitis, and periodontal diseases. Here are more benefits:

  • Reduces tooth decay and prevents gum disease – Pairing your toothbrush routine with flossing or interdental brushing promotes healthy gums and teeth. It ensures the removal of plaque and bacteria that lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
  • Allows you to examine your teeth regularly – Going the extra mile gives you a chance to examine your mouth for any swelling or redness. You thus check if your mouth displays symptoms of certain illnesses.
  • Promotes good dental hygiene – Because of the small profiles, a string of dental floss or interdental brush is lightweight, portable, and easy to store; it allows you to improve your dental hygiene on the go, whether at work or school. Some people even practice while driving!

Which is Better?

The difference is clear at this point. A number of official studies have proven floss to be inferior, albeit only marginally. The findings from numerous studies suggest that when employed alongside a manual toothbrush, interdental brushes exhibit greater efficacy in plaque removal and lead to a more substantial reduction in probing depth compared to dental floss. Despite the marginal differences observed, these results and patient preferences suggest that interdental brushes should be regarded as a preferred option over floss for addressing interdental plaque removal in individuals dealing with moderate to severe periodontitis.

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