Ask most dentists about oral hygiene and they’ll say that you must brush twice a day and floss regularly to avoid tooth decay. But, not all dentists agree. Some will suggest that there are better alternatives to floss, which often isn’t used correctly for it to be effective. This is where interdental cleaning makes a spectacular entrance that leaves the crowd breathless.
According to research studies, the effectiveness of flossing is inconclusive. In fact, a review of controlled trials, published in 2012, which compared the effects of tooth brushing and flossing to just tooth brushing found that there was little or no difference between brushing alone, and brushing and flossing, concerning the reduction of gingivitis and plaque build-up. After reviewing 12 studies and more than 1,000 participant results, scientists deduced that while flossing did reduce gingivitis and plaque build-up, these reductions were small and almost insignificant. Thus, it was deemed that flossing was not reliable.
“Most decay that I see clinically is related to diet with a high frequency of carbohydrate intake, or decrease in quantity or quality of saliva that occurs with increasing age, and increased number of medications,” said Dr. Henely. “With that being said, I still recommend that patients floss, as there is no evidence that it is harmful.”
Dr. Henley suggests that the best way to prevent tooth decay is to watch what you eat, by reducing the amount of carbohydrates (sugar) that you consume. He also recommends using fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash twice daily, and to visit your dentist regularly.
But, this still doesn’t answer the question of why flossing is ineffective. Well in response, the most common reason given for flossing not stepping up to the mark in terms plaque reduction effectiveness was flossing is not done correctly. So just how do you floss properly then?
According to the Australian Dental Association flossing can be done in five steps, which uses about 45 centimeters of floss, two hands and a gentle sliding action of floss over each and every tooth, carefully, so that you remove plague and don’t injure your gums. Now if you’re thinking this procedure sounds way too complicated and time-consuming for even the most dedicated of oral hygiene fanatics, then you’re not alone. Groans could be clearly heard from at least several kilometres away when flossing was mentioned. So what’s a better alternative to flossing then?
Take a deep breath, here comes Miss Interdental herself.
Interdental brushes are the alternative to flossing. They’re simple to use, look funky in bright and bold colours, and according to research, are more efficient at removing plaque.
One study states that interdental brushes, manufactured by TePe were effective at removing plaque, and favoured by users. The different brush sizes were said to give users access to various sites within a user’s mouth, depending on the user’s dexterity.
A systematic review of seven studies, which evaluated interdental brushes and floss effectiveness concluded that study participants preferred using an interdental brush. This report also stated that findings revealed that interdental brushes were more effective than floss in bleeding reduction and removal of plaque build-up over a 4 to 12-week period.
Now if you think this sounds too good to be true, then I just have to say that I’ve tested these little pocket rockets myself. Yes, me. I’ve poked and prodded my teeth with these colourful gems, and my conclusion is that they work. I’ve removed tartar build-up that’s sat on my teeth for years, and this was just in a week. My pearly whites are now pearlier and whiter than they’ve ever been, and my gums, well they look as fresh as the day I was born.
I found the key to using TePe interdental brushes was to find the right size and shape for you and your teeth. TePe has a range of options in interdental brushes, so there is a brush to suit everyone. There are longer and shorter handled brushes, some are angled, while others are not, and the brush heads are narrower or wider so they can fit in all sorts of interdental spaces.
Of course, if you’re still questioning why you’d put down that dear ole’ friend you call ‘floss’ and trade it for some colourful stranger that you’ve never heard of before, then all I have to say is, “You’ll never ever know unless you give interdental a go.”