Updated: Jun 23
Bacteria thrive in the spaces between your teeth. Unfortunately, they can be challenging to reach without interdental brushing. As long as you have a row of teeth standing next to each other, you have interdental space that needs frequent cleaning to prevent plaque and debris buildup that can lead to irreversible damage.
Although brushing removes debris and disrupts biofilm on the teeth's surfaces, the bristles aren't thin enough to get into the gaps and crevices between every tooth. You may be thinking, "this is a job for flossing!" but while it does help to dislodge food particles and biofilm in the gaps, flossing isn’t the best option for every single person.
Benefits of interdental brushing
You already understand the need to brush and floss, but I'm here to tell you why you should incorporate cleaning between your teeth with interdental toothbrushes into your oral care routine. Let's look at the three major benefits:
Prevents bacteria buildup
It may come as a surprise to learn that even by diligently brushing and flossing daily, you can still miss pockets of nasty bacteria buildup in the crevices between the teeth. As time passes without intervention, these colonies can fester, developing into a slew of oral health problems such as cavities, infections, teeth sensitivity, and gum disease. And we don't want that, right?!
It’s more thorough and gentler than flossing
If your goal is to be as plaque-free as possible and have clean, healthy chompers that won't wreak havoc on your health, this is your sign to invest in interdental toothbrushes. When it comes to cleaning between the teeth, studies have found that they are more effective and gentler than floss as they are less likely to cut or damage the gums.
Also known as spiral, proxy, or interdental brush picks, they are typically thin and have a cone-shape or cylinder design. These bristles are what make them clean more effectively than floss. Basically, you can think of them as special tiny toothbrushes designed to clean the tight spaces between your teeth. But this doesn't mean you should skip flossing entirely; it can still help reach and clean incredibly tight spaces.
They are the perfect size for cleaning your interdental space
Available in varying sizes to cater to different mouths, interdental toothbrushes can be used several times before discarding. Chat with your dentist or dental hygienist to find the right size and type they recommend for your mouth. Ideally, you want a brush that fits without having to force it through, and you also don't want a size that's too small as it'll ultimately be ineffective at cleaning.
And since your interdental spaces are irregular, you may need a few different sizes for different parts of your mouth. They're also bendable to fit better into every groove.
How to clean between your teeth
Interdental cleaning should be done once a day, ideally at night, before brushing to loosen up the day's bacteria and debris. Brush picks can help you get into each interdental space with a delicate in-and-out, up-and-down movement through the crevices to disrupt biofilm structures. Remember to rinse the brush between every gap to ensure that you don't carry over any gunk from the previous one.
For best results, interdental brushing should become a part of your daily oral hygiene routine. Sure, this means you'll be spending a little bit more time in front of the mirror, but trust me when I say that your efforts will be well worth it down the line!
So you stick to your new habit, search for easy-to-use tools so you won't think twice about picking them up. It also helps to remember your end goal — clean, plaque and disease-free chompers!
Don't know where to start? Try these out:
As a die-hard advocate for prevention, I've found a few reliable interdental brushing tools from TePe that I can safely and confidently recommend to my patients. All of these have been developed in partnership with dental experts to guarantee the finest quality in every detail. I find that they are most effective and user-friendly.
Especially for first-timers who don't have a single clue about brush sizes, consider the TePe Original Mixed Pack, which consists of 9 different sizes ranging from 0.4 mm to 1.3 mm. This variety pack is perfect for helping you find the correct sizes for your mouth. Take some time to try them out, and don't forget to use a light hand instead of forcing them through.
For cleaning between the back of the teeth, the TePe Angle Mixed Pack has six interdental brushes of sizes from 0.4 mm to 0.8 mm. These have a long handle and angled head, allowing easier access to the back of the teeth. The various brush sizes can accommodate the different shapes and sizes of spaces between the teeth, around orthodontic equipment, underneath bridges, or beside implants. These are great for beginners too!
Lastly, for cleaning on the go, the TePe EasyPick is my absolute go-to. The brush core is stable and flexible, and the soft silicone coating, made of alternating sizes, thoroughly cleans between the teeth while being comfortable on the gums. Again, these come in varying sizes, allowing you to find a suitable pick for every interdental space in your mouth. They also come in a handy travel case to keep them clean and take them on the road.
Now that you know how and why you should clean between teeth, all that's left is to pick up a set of interdental brushes and start brushing the gaps between your teeth daily, at least once a day. Remember that interdental brushing shouldn't be painful! Always use a gentle hand and never force your way into the gaps.
Don't be afraid to ask your dentist or dental hygienist about suitable sizes and bristle firmness for your particular oral needs.
Once you become a regular brusher, flosser, and interdental brusher, you can rest assured that you are doing your best to keep your teeth clean and free from problem-causing bacteria.