Dental floss or interdental brush: Which works best?

Published: March 08, 2014 07:00 AM

Q. My dentist told me to stop flossing—that it’s better to use something called an interdental brush. Is that true?

A. It depends on your dental health and which product you’re most likely to use. That’s especially true if you have gingivitis, in which the gums become inflamed due to bacteria buildup. Using floss or an interdental device (a wood or plastic brush or pick that's designed to clean between the teeth) helps prevent further bacterial buildup, plus it stimulates the gums, which reduces inflammation. Removing bacterial buildup may be especially important if you have space between your teeth that traps food, or if your gums bleed easily, our dental consultants say. Some people find an interdental brush easier to use than floss for hard-to-reach areas. Whichever device you choose, make sure you also use toothpaste with fluoride, which helps prevent cavities.

Looking for the best electric toothbrush? Read our Buying Guide. And check out our review of at-home tooth whiteners

Have a question? Ask our health care experts.

Editor's Note:

A version of this article appeared in the March 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on Health.

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