Floss vs Interdental Brushes - Which Should You Choose?

 Did you know 2 out of 5 surfaces of your teeth can't be reached by a toothbrush? This means if you choose to rely on just a toothbrush, you can only clean a maximum of 60% of your teeth. Therefore, cleaning interdentally is a pivotal aspect of your oral care routine.
In addition to brushing twice a day for two minutes, daily interdental cleaning is a must. This can be achieved using floss or interdental brushes as both can reach the tight gaps that a toothbrush can not. The question remains: should you choose to use interdental brushes or floss?

Why is Flossing Important?

Ordo Floss with mint leaves
Floss glides between teeth, removing plaque and food debris that brushing alone wouldn't be able to. The flexibility of floss is ideal for small openings between teeth. Although floss is flexible, aggressively forcing the floss into gaps can risk damaging your gums. Daily flossing can significantly reduce the risk of gum disease as well as tooth decay. Here are step-by-step instructions on flossing:
  1. Break approximately 45cm of floss.
  2. Wrap the floss between each middle finger, leaving roughly about 5cm.
  3. Direct the floss between openings between teeth using your index fingers and thumbs. Make sure not to force the floss between your teeth but instead use an up and down motion to gently guide the floss between teeth.
  4. Create a "C" shape by wrapping the floss around the tooth.
  5. Gently guide the floss upwards using a gentle up and down motion.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5, using a different section of floss for each tooth.

What Are Interdental Brushes?

Ordo Interdental Brushes in red, orange and pink

Interdental brushes are equipped with small bristled heads that can enter the tight gaps a toothbrush can't. Some interdental brushes also have a flexible handle which adds to the ease of use. Sizes range from 0.35mm (ISO 00) to over 1.5mm (ISO 8). Similar to floss, using interdental brushes on a daily basis can also lower the risk of gum disease as well as tooth decay. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to use interdental brushes:

  1. Choose an interdental brush size to start with. We recommend you start with the biggest size interdental brush and use smaller sizes where necessary.
  2. Insert the interdental brush carefully between your teeth by slightly twisting the brush. Do not forcefully insert the interdental brush between your teeth.
  3. Move the interdental brush back and forth to break down plaque and particles of food. This helps prevent and reduce bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease.
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each gap between your teeth.
  5. Replace the interdental brush when the brush becomes bent.

Read our blog on how to use interdental brushes for more information!

Which is Better - Floss or Interdental Brushes?

So, which is the better option? Unfortunately, it isn't possible to say floss is better than interdental brushes (or vice versa). Each interdental cleaning tool has its own advantages and disadvantages. A choice must be made depending on your needs. Here are the main factors you should consider before making a choice:

  • Effectiveness - Many studies have shown that interdental brushes are the most effective interdental cleaning tool due to their superior plaque removal ability. The study also stated that interdental bleeding was reduced by 46% within one week and 72% in 3 months. Floss is still a very viable option and is much better than not using any interdental cleaning tool.
  • Cost - Cost is usually one of the most significant factors when it comes to purchasing products. Using Ordo's pricing, you can purchase a 6 pack of interdentals for £3 or 25m floss for £2.50. According to the NHS, it's recommended to use 45cm of floss per use. This means a 25m roll should last you about 55 days. With interdental brushes, replace them when they begin to bend or fray. This is usually within 2 or 3 days, depending on usage. Thus, a pack of 6 interdentals could last you between 12-18 days.
  • Gap Size -  Although interdental brushes are available in sizes as small as 0.35mm (ISO 00), some gaps are simply too small for interdental brushes. Floss can fit much smaller gaps due to its flexible nature.
  • Ease of Use - Although floss can get into smaller gaps, interdental brushes are easier to use. This is especially true for people with braces or limited finger dexterity.

Conclusion - Which is Better?

Floss and interdental brushes both have their advantages and disadvantages. We recommend using interdental brushes where applicable as they are more effective and easier to use. For any gaps an interdental brush can't reach, use floss. This way, you get the effectiveness of interdental brushes and the flexibility of traditional floss.

Now that you've sorted your interdental cleaning out, it's worth checking out the benefits of an electric toothbrush as well as the pros and cons of oscillating and sonic toothbrushes to level up your brushing!