Twice a year when you visit your dentist for a checkup and professional cleaning, you are probably given instructions on proper oral hygiene. This will include brushing and flossing your teeth at least twice a day, using a toothpaste containing fluoride, and using a soft bristled toothbrush. Toothbrushes can’t reach every area of your mouth, which is why floss is such an important tool to reach all the nooks and crannies in and around each tooth. It’s important to remove the food particles and residue to prevent tooth decay and gum disease from developing. There are other tools that you can add to your oral hygiene routine, such as interdental cleaning devices.
Some patients don’t like flossing, have difficulty flossing correctly, or don’t floss enough. Interdental brushes are a great alternative to removing extra debris between your teeth, especially near the molars where it may be harder to reach with floss. These brushes look similar in shape to a pencil, with a metal wire core and soft nylon filaments twisted around the brush head. They are easy to use and even improve the amount of tooth surface area they can clean. If you’re suffering from gum disease, interdental brushes are a more gentle approach to flossing. With minimal bleeding of the gums, and ultimately minimal damage, interdental brushes can help to halt the progression of gum disease.
There are different types and sizes of interdental brushes, so choosing one that works uniquely for your teeth may be a hard choice. Here’s what to keep in mind when choosing your interdental brush:
- The correct size of brush depends on the amount of spacing between your teeth.
- If you have dental crowns or fillings, consider choosing a brush that has a coating on the inner wire.
- Decide which type of handle works best for you, a straight handle or a curved handle. Typically, a straight-handled brush works better.
- If you have sensitive teeth or roots, consider choosing an interdental brush made of rubber instead of nylon.
Oral Irrigation Devices
Also known as a water pick or water jet, an oral irrigation device is another alternative to flossing. It uses a stream of pressurized, pulsating water to clean in between the teeth and around the gum line. This type of device is recommended for people who are unable to tolerate flossing every day. If you have sensitive gums, orthodontic appliances, diabetes, or dental implants, an oral irrigation device might be a better option compared to traditional flossing. Oral irrigation devices are less irritating, easier to maneuver, and can remove more plaque than traditional flossing or for those who only brush.