The evidence on flossing and other methods of cleaning between the teeth

Tooth decay and gum diseases affect most people. They can cause pain, difficulties with eating and speaking, low self-esteem, and, in extreme cases, may lead to tooth loss and the need for surgery. The cost to health services of treating these diseases is very high.

As dental plaque is the root cause, it is important to remove plaque from teeth on a regular basis. While many people routinely brush their teeth to remove plaque up to the gum line, it is difficult for toothbrushes to reach into areas between teeth (‘interdental’), so interdental cleaning is often recommended as an extra step in personal oral hygiene routines. Different tools can be used for interdental cleaning, such as dental floss, interdental brushes, tooth cleaning sticks, and water pressure devices known as oral irrigators. Continue reading

Do electric toothbrushes remove more plaque and lead to better oral health?

electic toothbrush_

Photo copyright Pau Artigas, under Creative Commons Licence

Removing plaque through effective toothbrushing has an important role in the prevention of gum disease and tooth decay. Dental plaque is the primary cause of gum inflammation, and this can lead to more serious oral conditions. The build up of plaque can also lead to tooth decay. There are different kinds of powered or electric toothbrushes available to the public, at a range of prices. Powered toothbrushes work in different ways – some move from side to side, and some in a circular motion. Are these kind of toothbrushes better to use than a manual toothbrush? Does their use lead to less inflammation in the gums? Continue reading

Interdental brushes – do they prevent and control tooth decay and gum disease?

D:DCIM100MEDIAIMG_0007.JPGGum disease and tooth decay are the main reasons for tooth loss. Unless brushed away, plaque (a sticky film containing bacteria) can build up on the teeth, which can lead to gum inflammation. Plaque is also a key factor in the development of tooth decay. Interdental brushes are designed to clean between the teeth, to remove the plaque in harder to reach areas. They are small headed toothbrushes, available in a range of different widths to match the space between the teeth. They can be cone-shaped or cylindrical. Together with dental floss, interdental brushes are one of the most commonly recommended, advertised and available aids for cleaning between the teeth. But is there evidence that they really work to control tooth decay and reduce gum disease? Continue reading