What are Interdental Brushes?
In the process of trying to convince all of our patients to start flossing or improve on their flossing, we've finally convinced ourselves and accepted the reality that there will always be patients who don't floss and will not floss! So whenever we encounter patient who tell us "I will not start flossing" we recommend for them to try using an interdental brush.
What are Interdental Brushes?
Interdental brushes, also known as interproximal brushes or proxy brushes, are small cylindrical or tapered brushes that you can use to clean the areas in between your teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.
Not cleaning the plaque biofilm in these areas can result in cavities in between your teeth and gum disease.
How do I use an Interdental Brush?
To begin using an interdental brush you first have to find the correct size. This depends on how big the embrasure (the triangular gap in between teeth) is. The rule of thumb is to find the largest brush the goes in between your teeth without the wire of the brushing touching your teeth AND goes in with minimal effort.
You do not want to use a brush that is too large as this can damage your gums. We recommend that you talk to your dentist or dental hygienist if you're still unsure of the right size(s) you should be using.
You use the brush by inserting it all the way in between your teeth (being careful not to poke your gum) and coming back out, repeating this about three times. You may have to brush up and down the tooth if you find that the brush is large enough, but doesn't quite cover the whole surface in between your teeth.
Clean the brush by placing it under running water whenever you notice a good amount of plaque on it and once you're done using it, then you can store it away.
It's not uncommon for people to use 2 or 3 different brushes throughout their mouth, this is especially true for those who have gaps in between their teeth.
We suggest using the interdental brush(es) after you brush your teeth but before you rinse! This way you can introduce some of the toothpaste in between the teeth to help prevent tooth decay.
We also recommend that you bend the interdental brush at a 45-90 degree to make it easier to reach and clean your back teeth.
Who benefits from using an interdental brush?
The truth is that everyone can benefit from using an interdental brush, as long as they are using the correct size and using it properly. However we find that the people who benefit from using it the most are:
Patients with dexterity problems, they tend to have a difficult time using the correct "c-shape" flossing technique.
Patients with braces. Most teenagers with braces won't take the time to use a floss threader to clean every single space in between their teeth.
Patients who don't floss and won't floss. :'(
It's not uncommon for your gums to bleed when you first start using these brushes. This is a result of the gums being inflamed, but after about a week of using these brushes, the inflammation should subside no bleeding should be present.
Final thoughts on interdental brushes:
Although we like and recommend interdental brushes, we believe that they do not entirely replace flossing simply because it does not clean the areas where the teeth touch each other and clean the tooth surface underneath the gum line where normal "C-shape" flossing would normally reach. Nevertheless we find that interdental brushes have a high acceptance rate by patients who won't floss and at least using them provides a better cleaning than not using them at all.
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