Interdental Brushes or Floss?

Is It Really an Either/Or Proposition?

Interdental brushes are the tiny brushes made of straight wire and bristles affixed to a small handle that you can use to clean in-between your teeth. Many people now use these mini brushes instead of dental floss for cleaning between their teeth. Studies support the use of interdental brushes (or IDBs). They are not for everyone, however, and are probably best used as an addition to dental floss.

First, using an IDB is simple. This is probably the main reason why many people prefer them over floss. You insert the brush between your teeth and simply move it back and forth a few times for each pair of teeth. Be careful to never force the brush between the teeth, as you risk damaging the enamel or the gums. Always be careful not to puncture the gum tissue as you insert the brush. Brushes come in many different sizes, so make certain to use the size that fits between all of your teeth.

For our Sacramento Dentistry clients with dental appliances, such as braces, bridges or implants, we may even suggest specific IDBs to assist in cleaning. They are very useful for reaching spaces where a toothbrush cannot complete your daily oral hygiene. Our staff would be happy to demonstrate the proper use and suggest an ideal brush size for your situation.

There are some things, however, that an IDB cannot handle. Consider the patient with little space between their teeth. For them, flossing is generally the easiest way to clean their teeth. Also, think about your last molars – how do you fit an IDB between those teeth and the surrounding gums? You can’t, which again points to dental floss as the best tool for that job.

To conclude, numerous studies have demonstrated that, when combined with toothbrushing, IDBs do a better job than floss at reducing plaque, pockets in the gums and bleeding gums. Sacramento Dentistry, however, wants you to have, not just better dental health, but maximal dental health. So don’t stop buying dental floss just yet! Consider the ease of IDBs and the usefulness of floss as an oral hygiene combo, complementary methods of keeping your beautiful smile!

Sacramento Dentistry
  • Myra
    Posted at 13:57h, 12 July Reply

    I have used IDBs in addition to flossing ever since my dentist sent me home a sample pack to try out.

  • Jessica (@squareduptweets)
    Posted at 08:21h, 29 July Reply

    I am not a fan of the IDB, I have so little space between my teeth, it is really uncomfortable, even with the little ones.
    Here is another concern, I was advised by my dentist to never use the same part of floss twice, to use a big measure of floss and only use a fresh area for each “swipe.” That way I’m not moving bacteria from one place to another. The brushes to me seem like little bacteria spreaders. What are your thoughts on this?
    (I floss almost religiously and am so bummed this is not enough!)

  • Sacramento Dentistry
    Posted at 22:01h, 06 August Reply

    According to Dr. Alizadeh, keep in mind that regular dental floss is still the best tool for cleaning the areas where the teeth actually touch one another — a spot the interproximal brushes (another name used in the trade) simply can’t reach. Where there are gaps between the teeth, especially for patients with periodontal disease or gum recession, the mini brushes are very useful in comparison to floss. As the article mentioned, always use the best tool for the job at hand to ensure maximal dental health. The extra time spent leads to healthier teeth overall.

  • Art Mann
    Posted at 03:06h, 08 November Reply

    If I tried to not use the same part of the floss for more than one gap, I would – never – floss. If I’m that worried about “spreading the bacteria”, I’ll rinse with hydrogen peroxide. I don’t want to get even more flossessive than I already am.

    Somebody needs to invent floss that has bristles on it so we don’t have to use both things. LOL

Leave a Reply