Feb 2022 -

Why is Interdental Cleaning Important?

Interdental cleaning is an overlooked but essential part of our daily oral care routines. By performing interdental care, we can effectively help to remove debris and plaque which collects between the teeth and areas which are hard to reach by regular brushing. A toothbrush bristle alone cannot effectively clean between these tight spaces, so using an interdental brush is important for good practice of oral hygiene. This in return helps to minimise the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. Interdental Cleaners such as dental floss, tape, wood sticks or brushes remove trapped food particles from between the teeth alongside the film of bacteria that forms there before it has a chance to harden into plaque.

When left unremoved, plaque can harden into tartar, a hard mineral deposit that can only be removed through cleaning by a professional. When this occurs, it can become more difficult to brush and clean between the teeth as the gum tissue may become swollen or bleed. This condition is referred to as gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease. In order to maximise plaque reduction, interdental cleaning methods should be used in conjunction with conventional toothbrushes. In recent years interdental brushes have gained more popularity and support in comparison to floss due to their gentle yet effective nature. However, the techniques chosen to perform interdental cleaning should be in relation to the unique characteristics of an individual’s interdental space. As an example, dental floss is usually preferred by individuals with more crowding/tighter gaps, whereas interproximal brushes are used more often with periodontal work or more open gaps. Nevertheless, it is occasionally recommended to combine both pieces of apparatus in order to achieve a better clean.

It is recommended to perform interdental cleaning once a day, at any time which fits well in your schedule. Usually, it is preferred to do so in the evening before bed, to ensure the mouth is clean while sleeping.

Flossing
Flossing is one of the most traditional and well-known methods of interdental cleaning. Floss was once made from silk fibres twisted to form a long strand, this has now changed into nylon or plastic microfilaments. Often, this strand is treated with flavouring agents such as mint, to enhance the user experience and leave the mouth feeling fresh. Over the years, Oral-B’s floss range has become one of the most loved and effective product ranges in the UK. To find out more about what they offer, please visit: Oral B Flosses.
As with any discipline, flossing may take practice. It is highly encouraged for flossing to be continued on a regular basis, rather than avoided after the first attempt. For those with limited dexterity, it is recommended to try using a floss holder or a pre-cut floss product, such as the Dent-o-care Floss Holder or Oral-B Glide Floss Picks.
While flossing can be flexible and fit more easily between the teeth, other newer interdental cleaners such as small brushes and water flossers also perform this task, notably with more success.

Interdental Brushes
Interdental brushes are small-headed brushes that are usually available in a range of sizes to match different interdental spaces. These brushes can be cone-shaped or cylindrical and some are specifically coated to avoid scratching or causing damage to implants. These brushes are incredibly effective at removing pieces of food and plaque from between the teeth in areas where a regular toothbrush or even floss may not be able to reach.
To use interdental brushes, an appropriate size should be chosen to fit the gaps between the teeth. Usually, a few different sizes may need to be used in order to find the most suitable. The brush should then be inserted gently between the teeth and worked around the mouth so that no spaces are missed. This should not feel painful. A smaller size brush should be chosen if this feels too uncomfortable or tight.
When interdental brushes are first used, the gums may feel tender and may even bleed a little as the plaque build-up is removed. This is normal and the bleeding should reduce as the gums become healthier and use to interdental cleaning. If bleeding is still experienced after a few days of routine interdental cleaning, it is advised to speak to a dental professional for further guidance and checks on whether the brushes are being used correctly.

Water Flosser
A water flosser, also known as a water irrigator, is a handheld oral care device that directs a stream of water in between the teeth and gums, helping to remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria. When combined with daily flossing or interdental brushes, a water flosser can enhance the efficiency of the daily oral care routine. Water flossers offer a gentler approach to interdental care, making it ideal for those with sensitive gums or those with hard to clean dental work such as crowns, braces, bridges, and implants.
The gentle and less technique-sensitive nature of water flossers, allow for them to be used with greater ease, without causing any damage to the gums. Due to this, many people usually have more incentive to include this apparatus into their daily routine. However, it is important to note that water flossing should never be used as a substitute for regular brushing as using a toothbrush itself is responsible for up to 60% of plaque removal and cleaning of the tooth surface.