Flossing and Alternatives

Almost one third of our tooth surface lies between the teeth. We can easily clean the front, back and tops of teeth with brushing, something we should be diligent about. But cleaning between the teeth is a little more challenging. Flossing is one option.

Dental floss has recently been subjected to some media questioning. A few claim it offers little if any benefit. Others claim it is an improvement over brushing alone.  But most agree that is will not cause any harm under any reasonable conditions.

Flossing seems to help prevent gum infections, amid other benefits, because the floss can clean the gum line space where the tooth and gum join. If a gum is already infected the floss can cause bleeding. But consistent brushing and flossing should prevent this situation from occurring. 

Alternatives to Flossing

Interdental brushes are quite useful for cleaning between teeth. They are especially suited to the larger spaces between back molar teeth. Floss is better suited to getting between the smaller spaces of front teeth.

Waterpik is an alternative to flossing. These electronic devices, also called oral irrigators, use a high pressure stream of water to clean small spaces between teeth. The manufacture’s claim such cleaning techniques are twice as effective as flossing.

Waterpik and other oral irrigators seem to work quite well, and they won’t cause bleeding. They are a good alternative when the individual is wearing braces, which make flossing difficult.  The down side is that some find that the large amount of water in the mouth to be rather inconvenient.

Airfloss is a newer technology. It cleans the spaces between teeth with a burst of moist air. It appears to be reasonably effective, and less messy that water cleaning methods, but waterpik seems to do the better job of cleaning teeth.

Gargling and rinsing will remove at least some of the plaque and debris between teeth. We recommend a good non-alcoholic mouthwash for this purpose.

Flossing or an alternate method should be used for cleaning between the teeth.

 

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