Maintaining your brushing routine is important and ensuring you are brushing thoroughly and correctly is vital to your dental health. Dentists also recommend other treatments for keeping your teeth clean as well, including regular check-ups and aesthetic treatments such as teeth whitening and flossing. However, there is also another recommend process which can help maintain oral health and keep your teeth clean between dental visits, as well as reduce the need for “cleaning” sessions at your check-ups; Interdental brushing.
What is Interdental Brushing?
As we eat and drink we collect debris between our teeth, causing staining and eventually potential plaque build-up which can lead to damage. Whether it’s crisps, biscuits, chocolates, fruit, meats or any corrosive foods, you will naturally gather debris and even more so if you have gaps between teeth. This is where interdental brushing will help.
Regular toothbrushes, including traditional and electronic, cannot clear all of the debris in the mouth (despite electronic brushes being more effective than regular brushes, with powerful cleaning advantages), they simply can’t always reach between gaps. Flossing is used by many people to clean hard to reach areas but some struggle to floss without catching their gums or creating soreness in their mouth as it relies on “stretching” awkwardly at times.
The alternative to flossing is Interdental brushes, which are specially designed to clear between teeth and they are available in different sizes to cater for all. Admittedly, the downside is a significant time sink to your morning and evening routines but it’s worth the extra effort and can become advantageous in the long run.
Techniques are simple; each brush has a small handle and you can clean your teeth by moving the brush through the gaps one at a time and around the gum line gently. This will keep the areas relatively clear between dental visits. These brushes are excellent at removing interproximal plaque and the different sizes allow for access to areas of the mouth, including a larger interdental brush which has a right angle head to allow brushing the back teeth in particular which can often be missed with manual brushing.
So let’s look at the key benefits summary:
Benefits to Interdental Brushing
- Helps prevent against gum disease
- Removes food and plaque between teeth
- Readily available
- Different sizes available
- Easier than flossing for many
- Great for maintenance between dental visits
- Prevents bad breath (part of gum disease)
- Brushes are hygienic and softer on the teeth and gums
- Precise for brushing hard to reach gaps
Interdental vs Flossing
As mentioned earlier, many people floss to keep their teeth clean, as well as regular brushing and perhaps using mouthwash. However, although there is no definitive proof of one over the other, it’s recommended for those with many gaps in particular to use interdental brushes from brands such as TePe who offer the range and accessories in full. Although they are not always cheap, these brush packs are ideal for reducing debris on a daily basis and you’ll find your dentist would notice the difference. Flossing on the other hand, although effective, can be detrimental with cutting or making your gums bleed, as well as limited accessibility due to the nature of flossing (using both hands, limited access to the back teeth for effective cleaning, aching mouth from pulling and stretching to reach etc.)
So in general, although flossing wouldn’t be a bad idea, we’re at a point where we have access to better cleaning options and effective treatment solutions and interdental brushes are a great way to maintain oral health.
Flossing vs Interdental
- In some cases more effective than flossing
- Both techniques are effective for reducing plaque and inflamed gums
- Interdental brushing is softer than flossing and can be better if it’s uncomfortable
- Flossing can cause more bleeding
- Inflammation can reduce with both regular brushing and flossing
- Reports show that interdental brushing was superior to floss in the reduction of bleeding and plaque within 4-12 week period (https://www.rdhmag.com/articles/print/volume-34/issue-1/features/the-effectiveness-of-interdental-brushes.html)
- Long-term health is improved by effective regular interdental brushing, including cardiovascular health
What is the impact of not using interdental brushes?
Effectively, by only using regular brushing twice a day, although good for your oral health, it’s just not enough for most. Using additional aids such as mouthwash, flossing and teeth whitening packs for example are all great contributors to helping to keep your mouth clean but by avoiding interdental brushing, you could be more at risk from the following:
- Bad breath
- Periodontal Disease
- Gum Disease
- Advanced Plaque Build-up