How to Use Interdental Brush Properly


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Maintaining oral hygiene is a vital component of overall health. Interdental brushes are an important tool for keeping the spaces between your teeth clean and free from plaque and food particles. These tiny brushes can reach places where traditional toothbrushes and floss might not, making them an essential part of a comprehensive oral care routine.

Introduction to Interdental Cleaning

The Importance of Cleaning Between Teeth

Dental health professionals agree that interdental cleaning is an integral part of oral hygiene. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends cleaning between teeth daily. This practice helps to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, which are common issues that arise from neglecting these hard-to-reach areas. In fact, the Journal of Clinical Dentistry reported that interdental cleaning reduces the incidence of gingivitis compared to toothbrushing alone.

What are Interdental Brushes?

Interdental brushes are small brushes designed specifically to clean between teeth. They come in various sizes to accommodate the different spaces between teeth. Unlike dental floss, which is a string-like material, interdental brushes have bristles that sweep away plaque and debris, offering a more thorough clean for those with larger gaps, braces, or dental interdental brush clean teeth

Choosing the Right Interdental Brush

Consider the Size

Selecting the correct size of the interdental brush is crucial for both effectiveness and comfort. Using a brush that is too large can cause gum damage, while one that is too small may not clean effectively. The best approach is to ask your dentist or dental hygienist to recommend the appropriate size for your mouth during your regular checkup.

Types of Interdental Brushes

There are various types of interdental brushes available, including straight brushes, angled brushes, and those with a handle like a toothbrush, which might be easier for some users to hold. Additionally, there are disposable and reusable options. The choice of type largely depends on personal preference and ease of use.

How to Use an Interdental Brush

The Basic Technique

  1. Select the appropriate size. Interdental brushes come in various sizes to fit different gaps between teeth. Your dentist can recommend the correct size(s) for your mouth, or you might need to experiment with a few sizes to find which work best for you.
  2. Rinse the brush. Before using it, rinse the interdental brush under clean water.
  3. Gently insert the brush. Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and forefinger. Gently insert the brush into the space between your teeth. Don’t force it; if you find it difficult to insert, try a smaller size.
  4. Move the brush back and forth. Once the brush is inserted, move it gently back and forth a few times to remove plaque and food particles. You may also use a small in-and-out motion.
    how to back and forth cleaning with interdental brush
    Back and forth cleaning(source: GUM)
  5. Use gentle pressure. Do not use force, as this can cause gum damage or bend the wire on the brush.
  6. Clean from different angles. If possible, access the space between your teeth from different angles, ensuring you’re effectively removing as much plaque and debris as possible.
  7. Reach your back teeth. It can be more challenging to reach the spaces between your back teeth, but these areas are just as important to clean. You may need to use a larger size for these spaces.
    back side of the teeth
    Clean back side of the teeth(source: GUM)
  8. Rinse after use. After using the interdental brush in all the spaces that need cleaning, rinse the brush thoroughly under running water.

Advanced Tips

For optimal results, dip the brush in mouthwash or water before use to help it glide more easily. Also, bend the brush slightly to reach the back teeth more effectively. Replace the brush when the bristles become worn or bent, which is typically after about a week of use.


Maintaining Interdental Brushes

Cleaning and Storing

After each use, rinse the interdental brush under running water to remove any trapped particles. Shake off excess water and store the brush in a clean, dry place. It’s not advisable to share interdental brushes with others, as this can spread bacteria.

When to Replace Your Brush

Interdental brushes are not designed to last as long as regular toothbrushes. Look for signs of wear, such as frayed or bent bristles, and replace the brush when these signs appear. On average, an interdental brush may need replacing after 7-14 uses.

Overcoming Challenges with Interdental Brushes

Difficulty with Manual Dexterity

For individuals with arthritis or other conditions affecting manual dexterity, using interdental brushes can be challenging. Look for brushes with larger, ergonomically designed handles or consider a powered interdental cleaner as an alternative.

Sensitivity and Bleeding Gums

If you experience bleeding or sensitivity, it may be a sign of inflammation or gum disease. While it’s important to be gentle, it’s also crucial to continue cleaning these areas to improve gum health. If bleeding persists, consult your dentist.

The Role of Interdental Brushes in Oral Health

Preventing Gum Disease and Tooth Decay

Interdental brushes play a significant role in preventing gum disease and tooth decay. According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, interdental brushing, in addition to regular toothbrushing, significantly reduces plaque and gingival inflammation.

Supporting Dental Work

For those with braces, bridges, or dental implants, interdental brushes are particularly useful. They can navigate around wires and brackets or under bridges where plaque may accumulate, helping to maintain the integrity of dental work and supporting long-term dental health.


Summarizing the Benefits

The proper use of interdental brushes can lead to healthier gums, reduced risk of tooth decay, and an overall improvement in oral hygiene. It is an investment in your dental health that can save you from future dental issues.

Encouraging Consistent Practice

Incorporating interdental brushing into your daily routine takes commitment, but the benefits are well worth it. Rememberto consult with dental professionals to determine the best practices for your specific needs, and to keep up to date with the latest oral health guidelines.

By using interdental brushes properly, we can take a proactive step towards maintaining a healthy mouth and a beautiful smile.

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