Safest Teeth Whiteners
The safest ways to whiten your teeth explained
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When you brush your teeth, you clean the front, back and top surfaces of each tooth. However, the sides of your teeth may not get cleaned. This is because brushing alone can’t reach the spaces between your teeth.
Flossing allows you to clean between your teeth. It removes plaque and food particles that may have built up in those spaces. This makes it an essential part of daily oral hygiene.
The sides of your teeth are as susceptible to cavities as any other tooth surface. Only cleaning the visible parts of your teeth leaves the sides vulnerable to oral bacteria.
Over a long period of time, not flossing could lead to tooth decay or contribute to gum disease.1, 2
Your genes, tooth spacing, diet, and oral hygiene affect your oral health. So one person may benefit less from flossing than another.
However, flossing is one of the best defenses against oral bacteria. It only takes a couple of minutes every day.3, 4, 5
Flossing daily does not guarantee that you will never get a cavity. Similarly, washing your hands frequently does not guarantee that you or someone around you will not get sick. But washing your hands is worth the time and effort; the same applies to flossing.
There are alternatives if traditional string floss feels difficult or unpleasant to use. Some may be as effective as traditional floss, and a few have received the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.6
Oral irrigators or water flossers like Waterpiks allow you to clean between your teeth. They use a stream of water instead of a string. Many dentists recommend using them in addition to regular flossing.
Studies have shown water flossers to be effective at removing plaque between teeth.7, 8 Water flossers can reduce bleeding, especially if you’re recovering from dental implant surgery. Dentists also recommend them over traditional floss in these cases.9, 10
Water flossers also come with different pressure settings and jet tips. This makes accommodating sensitive teeth and gums much easier.
Interdental brushes are a hybrid option. They provide the benefits of both a toothbrush and floss. They’re long and thin enough to clean manually between your teeth.
Some studies have found interdental brushes to be more effective at removing plaque than any other method, including flossing.9, 11 This may be because they’re easier to use than string floss or water flossers, making it more likely that you’ll stay consistent.
However, all interdental brushes aren’t equal. A good interdental brush should fit snugly and comfortably between your teeth. It should not feel too big or too small. Avoid brushes made with metal wires if you have sensitive teeth or gums.9
Talk to your dentist to help determine the best interdental brush size for your tooth spacing.
Floss picks are toothpicks, usually made of plastic, with attachments that hold a small length of floss. They’re easier to hold and use than string floss, but they don’t have the same reach. They tend to be more challenging to use between the back teeth.
Compared to water flossers and interdental brushes, floss picks are a less effective alternative to traditional floss. However, they do still disrupt plaque, making them better than not flossing at all.
The Waterpik Aquarius water flosser has the ADA Seal of Acceptance and can effectively remove plaque between teeth. It has a full-size reservoir, making it best for at-home use.
This device includes 10 pressure settings and offers 90 seconds of water flow. It also pauses every 30 seconds to help you track time.
This device, like the Aquarius, is effective and ADA-approved. However, it’s designed to be more portable, making it easier to use when traveling.
The Waterpik Cordless Advanced has four pressure settings and 45 seconds of water capacity. Its reservoir is small and detachable for cleaning.
TEPE’s original interdental brush is straight, which may make it more effective than angled brushes.8 You can attach the protective cap over each brush to the handle to elongate it.
This brush is available in eight sizes, ranging from 0.4 to 1.5 millimeters. This allows a snug and comfortable fit for people with different amounts of spacing between their teeth. Talk to your dentist about brush sizes, and when in doubt, opt for the smallest size first.
If you prefer floss picks over other flossing alternatives, The Humble Co. makes easy-to-use floss picks with twin floss threads. They also have a minty flavor.
The Humble Co. makes its floss picks from biodegradable, plant-based materials. This reduces plastic waste.
These flossing alternatives are great for people who have difficulty reaching all areas of the mouth with traditional floss. However, dentists still recommend using string or tape floss if you can.
You can bend traditional floss around each tooth. This allows you to completely clean the interdental space up to the gumline. If you can, use traditional floss at least some of the time.
As mentioned earlier, certain conditions or situations may make water flossers or interdental brushes a better choice. Your dentist, hygienist, periodontist, or oral surgeon can give you customized advice based on your individual needs.
However, the most important thing about interdental cleaning is to do it consistently, no matter what method you use.
Flossing is an essential part of regular oral hygiene. It allows you to remove plaque in the spaces between your teeth, which brushing alone can’t reach.
Dentists generally recommend traditional string floss over other methods. However, flossing alternatives can also be highly effective and better than not flossing at all.
These alternatives include water flossers, interdental brushes, and floss picks. Talking to your dentist can help you decide which method or product is best.
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