A lot of us know that it is important to brush our teeth twice a day for good oral health but did you know that cleaning between our teeth is as important too? Daily cleaning between our teeth appears to be a harder habit to get into than brushing but it is just as important.
We brush to clean food debris and plaque which is a sticky film of bacteria that continually forms on the teeth and between its gaps. While brushing teeth twice a day cleans most of the food debris and plaque on the teeth yet there is 35% of the tooth’s surface that isn’t being touched. If the buildup of plaque deposits between our teeth in not cleaned it can cause the gums to bleed resulting in tooth decay and gum disease.
That’s why you should clean between your teeth once a day, if possible in the evening ahead of brushing your teeth.
What should I use to clean between my teeth?
There are various products accessible to cleanse between teeth:
Interdental Brushes / Sticks
These are reusable brushes small in size which comes in various widths to fit your gaps. For full benefit use the largest brush size that will fit in the gap. You may have to use more than one size. The brush should be inserted in the gap between the teeth keeping it close to the gum and moved back and forth a few times. It sometimes helps if you curve the brush to reach the back teeth.
Interdental sticks are conical plastic sticks that have soft rubber coating and comes in various sizes to fit different gap sizes. Again they need to be placed close to the gum and moved back and forth.
Dental Floss / Tape are a soft thread generally made from nylon. Floss is normally rounded like a rope and tape is flat and wider and generally chosen by people with bigger gaps between their teeth. We suggest choosing a waxed kind of floss/tape as it glides easily between the teeth. To use, move the floss between teeth and gently push it down close to the gum as far as it is comfortable for you. Push floss against the side of the tooth and move up and down. Repeat this on both sides of every tooth.
Floss in holders
These are disposable type hand held plastic holders that comes pre-threaded with a piece of dental floss. Some people find them simpler to use than a piece of dental floss due to the handle. The technique to use floss is same as cleaning between the teeth.
While it comes to choosing an interdental cleaning aid, there is no product where one size fits all. It will be determined on the size of the gaps between your teeth, your dexterity and whether you have crowns, bridges, implants or braces for example.
Our hygienist and dentists will be happy to advise you on the best products for your teeth and teach you how to use them. We store a large variety of interdental products in the practices. Our reception team will be glad to help you.
It’s worth knowing beforehand….
If this is the first time you are cleaning between your teeth then your gums might be a little tender and may bleed as you start to remove the plaque buildup. Don’t worry as this is absolutely normal and you are not harming. It can look like a lot of blood, but as you continue the bleeding will lessen as your gums become healthier. You will soon see the change.
Keep in mind for optimal oral health, cleaning between your teeth is as important as brushing!