Exploring the Best Tools for Effective Interdental Cleaning: A Scientific Analysis


Maintaining proper interdental cleaning is essential for comprehensive oral hygiene. While brushing alone cannot reach the tight spaces between teeth, utilizing appropriate tools can significantly improve oral health. In this article, we will delve into the scientific research to differentiate between various interdental cleaning tools, including waxed and unwaxed floss, waterpiks, standard floss vs. floss fingers, proxabrushes, and ribbon gauze. By understanding the benefits and limitations of each tool, individuals can make informed choices to promote optimal interdental cleanliness.

1. Waxed and Unwaxed Floss:

Both waxed and unwaxed floss are effective at removing plaque and debris from between teeth. Scientific studies suggest that there is no significant difference in plaque removal efficiency between the two types of floss. However, some individuals may find waxed floss more comfortable to use due to its smoother texture. Conversely, unwaxed floss may be preferred by those who desire more control and a firmer grip during cleaning. The choice between waxed and unwaxed floss ultimately comes down to personal preference and individual needs.

2. Waterpik:

Waterpiks, or water flossers, use a pulsating stream of water to clean between teeth and along the gumline. Scientific studies have shown that waterpiks can effectively reduce plaque and improve gum health. They are particularly beneficial for individuals with braces, implants, or other dental appliances. Waterpiks can reach areas that may be challenging to access with traditional floss. However, it’s important to note that waterpiks should not be used as a substitute for regular flossing, as they may not remove plaque as effectively in all interdental areas.

3. Standard Floss vs. Floss Fingers:

Standard floss, which comes in a spool, is a widely used tool for interdental cleaning. Research indicates that properly used standard floss effectively removes plaque and reduces the risk of gum disease. On the other hand, floss fingers, also known as disposable floss picks, offer a convenient alternative. These small plastic tools have pre-threaded floss and a handle, making them easy to maneuver. While floss fingers are useful for on-the-go cleaning, they may not provide the same dexterity and control as standard floss. Therefore, using standard floss with proper technique remains the gold standard for interdental cleaning.

4. Proxabrushes:

Proxabrushes, also called interdental brushes, feature small bristles on a handle. These brushes are designed to clean larger interdental spaces, especially in individuals with gum recession or wider gaps between teeth. Scientific studies have demonstrated that proxabrushes effectively remove plaque and reduce the risk of gingivitis. They are particularly useful for individuals with orthodontic appliances or bridges. However, proxabrushes may not be suitable for everyone, as they may cause gum irritation or discomfort in individuals with tight spaces between their teeth.

5. Ribbon Gauze:

Ribbon gauze is a less commonly used tool for interdental cleaning. It consists of a flat, woven fabric that can be threaded between teeth to remove debris. While there is limited scientific research specifically on ribbon gauze, it can be an option for individuals with wider interdental spaces or unique dental conditions. However, caution should be exercised when using ribbon gauze to avoid injuring the gums or causing damage to tooth surfaces.


Interdental cleaning is a vital component of oral hygiene, and choosing the right tools can significantly impact oral health outcomes. Scientific evidence supports the effectiveness of various interdental cleaning tools, including waxed and unwaxed.

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