The ever old question that we ask ourselves after every dentist appointment.. To floss or not to floss?
Your hygienist will always get on your case for flossing and for good reason, flossing is important! But, can we get away with it if we don’t floss and are there other methods to choose from that might be better or easier to use?
Remember, the reason floss is recommended is because we need to clean between the teeth, and floss is one of the tools to get there. It only takes 48 hours for plaque accumulation to start causing primary stage cavities and gingivitis. This is why cavities between the teeth are so common, if you don’t floss and only rely on a toothbrush for your daily oral care, you’ve left plaque in between the teeth for endless amounts of time; Allowing it to cause all the negative effects that you're trying to avoid.
Plus, even effective tooth brushing will miss about a third of tooth surfaces.. and only half of the plaque is removed. This is why cleaning between the teeth is stressed, because the bristles of the tooth brush don’t reach that area.
X-Ray of Healthy Spaces Between Teeth X-Ray of Diseased Spaces Between Teeth
(Cause is most likely from lack of effective cleaning between teeth)
Luckily, we have new interdental aids besides floss that are easier to use and are just as effective!
If you are accustomed to using an electric tooth brush for your daily oral care then there are great options that will be easy for you to get into a habit of using.
The first powered option is the Waterpik. It uses water to flush out bacteria from under the gums and between teeth and can be used for crowns, bridges, veneers, implants and cleaning around braces. (Waterpik, 2017)
Another option availble is the new airflosser from Sonicare. It uses brusts of air and liquid micro-droplets to remove plaque from between the teeth and the gum line. It can also be used to clean between prosthetic appliances and braces. (Philips, 2017)
Both the waterpik and airfloss have larger handles, similar to an electric toothbrush, making them just as easy to use.
For more traditional and less costly styles of interproximal cleaners there are also a few options available.
The most common alternative to thread floss is the Flosspick. Is has a platic handle with a pre-threaded piece of string floss on the tip which makes it easier to maneuver in the mouth, especially when reaching the back teeth.
One floss pick should not be used to clean the entire mouth as you will eventually start spreading bacteria removed from one site to other sites in the mouth. A floss pick should be used for every few teeth and then replaced with a new one until the entire mouth has been cleaned.
Interproximal brushes are used when there are bigger spaces between the teeth and has a small brush that is used to clean between the spaces. These brushes can be rinsed after every few teeth to also
prevent the spreading of bacteria from site to site.
If you have any questions about the devices we mentioned in this post please contact your dentist or hygienist and they will provide you with more information and recommendations on what is best for you! Everyone has unique oral health needs so it is best to talk to a professional to make sure you're getting the best results.
Waterpik. (2017). Why Waterpik. Retrieved from https://www.waterpik.com/oral-health/why-waterpik/
Philips. (2017). Philips Sonicare. Retrieved from https://www.usa.philips.com/c-p/HX8331_11/sonicare-airfloss-ultra-interdental-cleaner/overview
2. Iannucci. J.M., Howerton. L.J., (2012). Dental Radiography: Principles and Techniques. Paralleling Technique. Elsevier Sanders: St. Louis, MI. Pg. 163