The Importance of Interdental Care
We are often told to brush our teeth twice a day, but did you know that brushing only cleans 60% of the tooth surface? Tooth brushing is the basis for a good daily oral hygiene routine but using only a toothbrush doesn’t reach all the spaces in between the teeth and it doesn’t effectively remove all plaque and bacteria that builds up around the gum line. If not dealt with, this plaque can harden and become tartar, which could cause bad breath and potentially lead to gum disease, leaving you responsible to deal with the consequences.
So…what should you do?
Start doing some sort of interdental cleaning of course!
Interdental cleaning is an overlooked but essential part of our daily oral care routine. By performing interdental care, we can effectively help to remove debris and plaque in areas which are hard to reach by regular brushing. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot effectively clean between these tight spaces, making an interdental brush important for good practice of oral hygiene. 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 turn into plaque. If this is left unremoved, hardened tartar is formed, a hard mineral deposit that can only be removed by a dental profession. In addition to this, the tartar can potentially lead to gingivitis, an early stage of gum disease, where the gum tissue becomes swollen and often bleeds. We wouldn’t want that would we?
In order to help maximise the removal of stubborn plaque and avoid the formation of tartar, interdental cleaning should be incorporated into our oral care routine. The techniques and tools used to perform interdental cleaning should be chosen to suit your unique preference and the anatomy of your teeth. Not sure what this mean? Well, lets us present you with an example. Dental floss is usually preferred by individuals with more crowding or tighter gaps between their teeth, whereas interdental brushes are more often used between periodontal work, more open gaps, or by those with limited manual dexterity. Nevertheless, it is sometimes recommended to combine different techniques and methods of interdental care in order to achieve a better clean or to reach a better conclusion about what is best suited for you. Some of our most popular interdental cleaners are explored in more detail below, to help guide you into making the right choice for you.
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.
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. Let’s not be lazy, practice makes perfect! For those with limited dexterity, it is recommended to try using a floss holder or a pre-cut floss product, such as the Oral-B Glide Floss Picks.
While floss can be flexible and fit more easily between the teeth, other newer interdental cleaners such as small brushes and water flossers can also perform this task, with notably similar, if not better success.
Interdental brushes are small-headed brushes which are available in a range of sizes and colours 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 food debris and plaque from between the teeth, in areas where a regular toothbrush or even floss may not be able to reach. Perfect? Well.. not necessarily.
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. However, this can be quite uncomfortable for those with sensitive teeth. If bleeding is still experienced after a few days of routine interdental cleaning, it is advised for you to speak to a dental professional for further guidance. If you are someone with very sensitive gums and teeth, interdental brushes may prove to be a nightmare for you, but there is no escaping interdental cleaning as water flossers may be the next ideal solution for you!
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, not only helping to remove food debris, plaque, and bacteria but also gently massaging the gums. The ultimate 2 for 1 deal! A water flosser can majorly enhance the efficiency of the daily oral care routine by offering 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 property of water flossers, allows 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, hopefully you’re one of them too…
However, it is important to note that you should not feel inclined to use water flossing as a substitute for regular brushing as using a toothbrush itself is responsible for up to 60% of plaque removal and cleaning of the mouth.
So, you may not be thinking: when exactly should you perform interdental cleaning? Well, this depends on you and your daily oral care routine. It is recommended to do so once a day, at any time which fits well with your schedule, though it is usually preferred to do so in the evening before bed, to ensure the mouth is clean when sleeping – no one wants to wake up to bad breath!