Interdental brushing is just one of the ways that can help prevent the build up of plaque. Interdental brushes have small circular bristled heads specially designed to clean between your teeth.
Although the space or gap between your teeth conceals only about 40% of the tooth surface, it can be difficult to clean those hard to get places between each tooth.
Flossing is another way of removing plaque from between teeth but most people find flossing just too time consuming and awkward. If you are struggling getting to grips with your flossing technique you may find this guide helpful.
Do’s and don’ts of interdental brushing
Ask you dentist’s advice about whether you need to start using an interdental brush. He or she will know if you will benefit from this type of brush and advice you on what size(s) of brush you need – if any.
- select a suitable size brush for each gap, you should ensure you have several different sizes to hand
- be systematic; start in one place and move on one tooth at a time
- manoeuvre the brush in from both the outside and the inside of the space where possible
- quickly rinse the brush under the tap after each gap
- gently give the brush a little twizzle in each gap
- change your brushes as soon as they deform or look worse for wear
- when you have finished brushing, carefully wash you brush/brushes by gently running your fingers up and down the bristles
- leave the brushes to dry in a clean place
- continue to brush twice a day for a full two minutes
- Don’t force the brush between any gaps. You should be gliding through the spaces between your teeth not forcing things. Your brush should gently touch each side of the triangular shape of the interdental space, if it feels to tight try a size smaller brush
What if my gums bleed?
When you first start using interdental brushes, your gums may be tender and bleed a little as you start to get rid of any plaque build-up. Carry on using the brushes and the bleeding should reduce as your gums become healthier.
If the bleeding doesn’t stop after a few days, get advice from your dentist. They can check if you’re using your interdental brushes correctly. You can also check out this page for more information on why your gums may be bleeding.
Does interdental brushing provide any benefits?
There have been numerous studies to find out whether interdental brushing prevents and controls gum disease and tooth decay. The most creditable study stated that:
“The review found very low quality evidence that interdental brushing plus tooth brushing is more beneficial than brushing alone for controlling gum disease and plaque after one month.”
“There is also low-quality evidence that interdental brushing reduces gum disease when compared with flossing.”
It seems rather odd to me that the “science” is telling us flossing or interdental brushing has limited benefits, while dentists promote both flossing and interdental brushing.
This is not the first time I have come across this sort of conflicting opinion in the world of dental health surveys. You will have to be your own judge in this matter; but interdental brushes work for me.