Interdental Cleaning

Cleaning in between your teeth is an important factor in the overall dental hygiene and it is part of the bare essentials of oral hygiene. It is critical that interdental cleaning is part of your daily dental health habits. When I ask my patients about their interdental cleaning habits, most of the time they tell me that this part of their routine has fallen by the wayside.

It is fortunate that there are many interdental products available on the market. There are a few options when it comes to cleaning in between the teeth.

In this article, I discuss the main question of dental floss vs dental tape. Other related topics, like flossing for bridges or use of water picks is discussed in another article.

Why Floss?

Flossing or using tape is essential to clean the area in between the teeth which is very tight. The space may be too tight to use any other appliance especially a toothbrush.

However, the space is large enough for bacterial plaque to form, giving rise to many issues including potential decay, tartar build up and mouth odour. Good oral hygiene demands that flossing is part of one’s daily routine.

Cavities and tartar build up will require dental intervention, which could cost you money and is not always a comfortable experience, especially as in most cases in can be avoidable.

Dental Floss vs. Dental Tape

Both dental tape and dental floss serve the same purpose of cleaning a person’s teeth, but they are different in their form and how they execute the job of cleaning teeth.

Dental floss is a thin strand or cord of twisted plastic monofilaments or nylon filaments. Dental tape is very similar to floss, but it is broader and flatter than dental floss. It’s also sometimes referred to as ribbon tape. It has a flat surface that allows it to pass in between teeth more easily and hence cleans this part thoroughly.

Dental floss has been in existence for over a long period ever since strings were made. The dental floss has over the years changed a bit as manufacturers added flavours like cinnamon and mint to it.

On the other hand, tape is a more recent invention compared to floss. Some people prefer dental tape to dental floss since it slides easily in and out between the gaps of the teeth. The dental tape does not also snap or harshly strike the gums the way dental floss at times does.

The decision on whether to use dental tape or floss depends on which is the most effective at cleaning between your teeth and which you find easiest to use.

Types of Dental Floss

Like many things in life, there is no one “right” floss for everyone. And in many cases, in the ONE mouth, there will be a need to have few types of flossing and interdental products. As each person has different arrangement of teeth, with varying spaces and access restrictions.

Finding the right dental floss for your oral hygiene needs might take some trial and error, as there are many varieties. However, it is important to try the different variations, and to consult your dentist or hygienist to see what is working for you to get good oral hygiene.

As stated before; no matter what type or variety you use, the vital thing is to clean in between your teeth daily.

Using Floss is key

There have been several studies to investigate what is the best product for flossing. Studies have been performed to assess the plaque-removing ability of different types of flossing products.

Whilst the results will vary, the main conclusion is that flossing products significantly improve plaque removal compared with tooth brushing alone.

Finding the Right Dental Floss

As stated before, you need not choose only one type of flossing product, as you many need a variety. Indeed, different members of your family may need or prefer certain types, which may or may not change over time.

If you’re not sure, ask your dentist or hygienist for some guidance; although ultimately, there will be a need for trial and error until you settle on a type that suits you.

Symptoms When Flossing

As a general rule, healthy gums do NOT bleed. And flossing – when done correctly – should not result in bleeding or pain.

If there is bleeding or redness occurring, then it may be a sign that something is going on, which may need investigated.

When you return to flossing, after you haven’t done so for a while, you will find that your gums will swell slightly and may even throb. This is because the accumulating dental plaque is being pushed into the gums, causing an irritation. Daily flossing will remove this symptom. If not, please consult your dentist.

Conclusion

Generally, I tend to recommend dental tape as in my experience it is easier to handle and less traumatic for the inexperienced user. Dental tape is also easier to handle for those who have large fingers.

For those whose teeth are tightly pressed together, floss might be a better option, and more so the waxed version, as that is easier to glide in between the teeth.

Whilst there is no added benefits for have the floss enriched with fluoride or flavours; some people find that flavours freshen their mouth more.

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