Hate Flossing? Here’s why you don’t need to do it

So you hate flossing? I’m actually not a fan either.

Flossing is fiddly, technique sensitive and really only removes a small amount of the plaque that grows between your teeth. I have patients who swear black and blue that they’ve been flossing religiously for the last six months and quite frankly I don’t see a big improvement in how clean their teeth look or how healthy their gums are. It’s not that I think they’re lying to me – I believe them completely! It’s just that flossing is so technique sensitive that very few people can do it effectively.

The European Federation of Periodontology recently published a consensus statement after the latest international workshop. Researchers at the workshop concluded that dental floss did little to clean between teeth and that the most effective method for removing plaque was a little tool called the interdental brush. This was something that I’ve long found to be true in my practice and it was refreshing that the world authority in preventative dentistry now agreed with me, too. I’ve gotten into many arguments with other dental colleagues regarding the effectiveness of interdental brushes over flossing and now I have some decent ammo to shut them down! Boom!

What are interdental brushes (IDBs)? They look like little Christmas trees or miniature bottle-brushes and they come in many different sizes so that they fit the gaps between all of your teeth. Everyone’s teeth are a different shape and therefore have different sized gaps in between them. The most effective way to use these brushes is to ask your dentist to recommend the correct size for you after you’ve had a clean. The brush should feel nice and snug between the gaps of your teeth. During the first few days of using IDBs, your gums may bleed a little. Any bleeding usually goes away after a few days of continued use. Once the bleeding has stopped, you’ll know you have excellent teeth and gum health.

Regular patients of mine will know that I LOVE interdental brushes and the question they often get at the start of every check up is, “have you been using your interdental brushes?”. In reality I find that they become religious IDB users not because of my nagging, but because they can FEEL how much cleaner their teeth are and they get far fewer dental problems because of it.

Generally the dirtiest spots in your mouth are in between the teeth. This is an area that your toothbrush will never reach, no matter how well you brush. Spending a little time using an IDB before you brush will save you countless dollars in dental bills later on.

If you would like more information on how to use interdental brushes and which type, please don’t hesitate to contact us!