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How Proper Interdental Cleaning Improves Your Oral Health

26th October 2023

Oral hygiene is incredibly important for maintaining good overall health. Clean and healthy teeth allow us to eat, speak, and socialise without pain or discomfort. Yet many people do not practise proper oral hygiene habits daily. Interdental cleaning is a crucial part of an often neglected oral care routine. In this blog post, we will explore what interdental cleaning is, why it matters for your oral health, and how to do it properly.


What is Interdental Cleaning?


Interdental cleaning refers to cleaning between the teeth in areas where a toothbrush cannot easily reach. This includes spaces between two teeth and areas under the gumlines. We recommend interdental cleaning because toothbrush bristles alone are not able to remove plaque and food debris from these tight spaces. When left in place, plaque hardens into tartar, leading to gum disease and tooth decay between teeth. Proper flossing, water flossing, and using interdental brushes are simple ways to clean interdentally each day.


Why Interdental Cleaning Matters


According to dental health surveys, nearly 32% of adults in the UK have some form of gum disease. Effective interdental cleaning, according to the Oral Health Foundation, may be able to prevent up to 80% of cases of gum disease. Plaque that is allowed to remain between teeth causes inflammation in the gums, known as gingivitis. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis and eventual tooth loss. Interdental cleaning physically removes plaque and bacteria to prevent this.


Additionally, food and plaque trapped between teeth are major causes of tooth decay. Sugary foods left in hard-to-reach spots interact with bacteria to produce acids that break down tooth enamel. Cavities typically form inside the pits and grooves of teeth but are increasingly occurring between teeth as well. The British Dental Association reports that nearly 27% of 12-year-olds have decay between at least two teeth. Consistent interdental cleaning reduces your risk of developing cavities between teeth.


How to Clean Between Your Teeth


The good news is that interdental cleaning is quick and easy with the right tools. Basic floss is a good place to start for most adults. Gently slide the floss between two teeth, contouring it around the sides of each tooth. Use an up-and-down motion to remove plaque and debris before moving to the next gap.

Interdental brushes are ideal for larger spaces between teeth. They come in different widths to fit your needs. Gently move the brush in and out between teeth, ensuring the bristles reach the gumline. Rinsing the brush helps clear away dislodged plaque.

Finding the Perfect Interdental Brush


Interdental brushes come in a variety of sizes, so it can be tricky to determine which one is right for your mouth.


For the best guidance, consult your dentist or hygienist for a recommendation. In the meantime, here are some tips for choosing the ideal size:


  • Stand in front of a mirror and gently insert a brush between your teeth near the gums. Start with the smallest and gradually move up in size until the bristles lightly brush the tooth surfaces and gumline.
  • The brush should fit snugly, but the plastic-coated wire should not touch the sides of your teeth or gums. Never force a brush into a tight space.
  • Once inserted, gently glide the interdental brush in and out 2-3 times to clean between teeth. Be sure to clean all spaces daily. We highly recommend that patients do 3 strokes right to the side and 3 strokes to the left side of each tooth. Also, we advise changing each interdental brush every 3–4 days.
  • You’ll likely need 2-3 different-sized brushes or a combination of 1-2 brushes plus floss since space sizes vary throughout your mouth.


For those with braces or dental work like bridges or implants, water flossers may be easier to use. These tools use pressurised water streams to flush out food particles and plaque. Simply place the tip in each gap and activate the water pulse.


No matter which method you choose, take your time and be thorough, spending at least 2-3 minutes total on interdental cleaning daily. It should be painless when done correctly. See your dentist or hygienist if you have any concerns about your technique.


The Health Benefits


Developing a habit of daily interdental care provides a wide range of oral and overall health benefits. Your teeth will be cleaner and brighter as stains are reduced. This will then give you fresher breath with fewer odour-causing bacteria present. Your gum tissue will appear lighter in colour and feel firmer to the touch. Guided scaling, polishing, and fluoride application will remove stubborn tartar and strengthen enamel. Most importantly, consistent interdental cleaning leads to fewer dental problems down the road, saving you discomfort, time, and money. Keep your mouth healthy in between dental visits with a simple interdental cleaning.


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