Why we clean between teeth and how to do it right
Interdental cleaning is an important step in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. And a dentist or two might have told you to make it part of your brushing routine. Even if you don’t do it yet, it’s never too late to take a step towards healthier teeth.
What is interdental cleaning?
Interdental cleaning is what we call cleaning the gaps between our teeth and gums. For a long time, dental floss has been widely recommended. But now interdental brushes are a popular and effective alternative. Easier than flossing, they have hundreds of tiny bristles to help get your teeth extra clean.
Other options include interdental sticks, wooden plaque removers and dental picks. These allow you to get straight to the action by picking a spot, and gently moving in and out to clear away any plaque. Or if you like floss but hate wrapping up your fingers, a pre-threaded flosser could make things simpler.
Why you should clean between your teeth
A daily rub between your teeth helps remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas that your toothbrush can't get to. This helps reduce plaque build-up that could cause gum disease, bad breath and potentially decay as well. Three things we’d all rather avoid.
How often do I need to do it?
Everyone knows to brush twice a day. But when it comes to interdental cleaning, the best advice is to do it at least once a day. Make it part of your brushing routine by picking a time of day that works best for you.
Early riser? Then set your teeth up for a sparkling day each morning.
Like feeling fresh after meals? Then go for a clean after breakfast, lunch or dinner.
How to use an interdental brush
1. Start by choosing an interdental brush of the right size. For different teeth gaps you may find a thicker or thinner brush works best, and may need a combination of both to properly clean your mouth.
2. Gently insert the brush between your teeth, and then move it back and forth a few times. Making sure the whole length of the brush gets used. Be careful not to force the interdental brush between your teeth.
3. For teeth near the back, you may need to carefully bend the neck of the brush or the brush wire to curve around the space. Once again, gently move the brush in and out a few times to help dislodge any plaque.
4. Be sure to change the brush regularly or when the filaments become worn. Ensuring that space between your teeth always gets the best scrub it can.
How to use dental floss
1. First break off enough floss. Around 18-20 inches will do (we don’t need the whole roll). Wind it around your thumb and forefinger, then guide the floss between your teeth with a gentle rubbing motion. Using extra care if helping a family member.
2. When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a "C" shape around the tooth. Gently rubbing along the side with up and down motions. Don't snap or press the floss too hard into your gums. And make sure to keep the clean floss rotating as you get to each new tooth.
3. Repeat for all of your teeth, not forgetting the ones at the back. And remember that flossing shouldn’t be painful. If in doubt, ask your dentist or dental hygienist for help to avoid injuring your gums.
If you sometimes overlook cleaning between your teeth or think you’ll do it next time, why not give it a try tonight. You might be surprised how easy it is. And trust us. One day, your smile will thank you.