Nearly all of us know that brushing our teeth twice a day is essential for good oral health but did you also know that cleaning between them is vital too? Cleansing every day between our teeth seems to be a harder habit to get into but is just as important as brushing.
We clean our teeth to get rid of food debris and plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that repeatedly forms on and between our teeth. Although brushing twice a day cleans much of the food debris and plaque on the surface of the teeth but there is nearly 35% of the tooth’s surface that is not cleaned. If we don’t clean between our teeth the accumulation of plaque deposits in these areas can affect the gums to bleed resulting in gum disease and tooth decay.
So you should clean between your teeth once a day, ideally before brushing your teeth in the evening.
What should I use to clean between my teeth?
There are a range of products easily available to clean between teeth:
Interdental Brushes / Sticks
Interdental brushes are small and reusable available in different widths to fit the size of the space between your teeth. For total benefit use the brush largest in size that will fit in the space. You may notice that you require to use more than one size. The brush should be placed in between the teeth close to the gum and moved back and forth a few times. It sometimes benefits to curve the brush to clean hard to reach places.
Interdental sticks come in several sizes to fit different gap sizes; it is a tapered plastic stick that has a soft rubber coating. They too need to be placed close to the gum and moved back and forth.
Dental floss / Tape are commonly created from nylon. Tape is generally flat and wider and floss is rounded as a rope, usually for people with larger gaps between their teeth dental tape is more preferred. We would advise to choose a waxed variety of tape/floss as it is easy to slide between the teeth. To use, slide the floss between teeth and gently press it down below the gum as comfortably far as you can go. Press floss against the side of the tooth and slide up and down. Repeat on both sides of each tooth.
Floss in holders
These hand held plastic holder are disposable and are pre-threaded with a piece of dental floss. For some it is easier to use than a piece of dental floss because of the handle. The method used to clean between teeth is precisely the same as for floss.
When choosing an interdental cleaning product, one size doesn’t fit all. It will be influenced by the size of the gaps between your teeth, your dexterity and whether you have bridges, crowns, implants or braces for example.
Our dentists and hygienists will be happy to help you choose the best products for your teeth and guide you on how to use them. We stock a wide range of interdental products in the practices. Our reception team will guide you.
It’s worth knowing beforehand….
If you have never cleaned between your teeth before your gums might become a little tender and may bleed as you start to clean the plaque buildup. Don’t worry as it is completely normal and you are not causing injury. It may seem like a lot of blood, but as you persist the bleeding will decrease as your gums become healthier. You will soon observe the improvement.
For optimum oral health, cleaning between your teeth is as imperative as brushing!