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The latest interdental brushes have proved to be far more effective at cleaning the interdental spaces between your teeth than flossing – according to new research by Prof. Denis Bourgeois and his research team at the University of Lyon, France. Until recently, interdental brushes were only recommended for cleaning large interdental spaces – while dental floss was more suitable for very small spaces. In fact, dental floss and toothpicks have been the only tools available for most people to clean these spaces. Not anymore.

With the development of interdental brushes that can now access spaces with a width of 0.6 mm, these revamped oral health tools are set to render flossing obsolete. Prof. Bourgeois says, “Dental floss used to be the common tool for narrow spaces. However, dental floss is no longer preferred, as its use is not supported by conclusive scientific evidence. For interdental brushes, we have scientific evidence. Interdental brushes have now become the best tool for cleaning interdental spaces.” Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has recently removed their recommendation to floss your teeth daily from their Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

And a recent dental report questioned the effectiveness of flossing since there is no actual conclusive clinical evidence to prove it. New generation interdental brushes, on the other hand, were clinically proven in the French study to remove 16 billion bacteria on average from each interdental site (between teeth) alone. So why are the latest interdental brushes so effective? Because they can reach critical areas of bacterial contamination on your tooth surfaces that flossing cannot.

Dental floss is still recommended for use on teeth with one root (incisors and canines), but not for your other teeth with two or three roots (molars). These teeth have hard-to-reach surfaces (within interdental spaces) that aren’t necessarily flat nor curved – often they are irregular. For example, a molar tooth with a concave surface cannot be cleaned thoroughly with dental floss because the floss completely misses the depression. Whereas an interdental brush can access all the nooks and cranies of your molars by completely filling the interdental spaces between them with hundreds of super fine bristles – thus removing almost all plaque.

It’s easy to determine the type of interdental brush that you’ll need. Your dentist simply measures the spaces between your teeth with a special probe after which they can advise you on the correct sized brush to use. The French researchers used the interdental brushes of the Swiss oral health care brand CURAPOX. They also noted that the test patients in the study responded positively to using these brushes. Source: “Access to Interdental Brushing in Periodontal Healthy Young Adults: A Cross-Sectional Study.” PLoS ONE 11(6): e0158252. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0158252