February 23, 2015
An interdental brush is a small brush that is specifically designed to clean those hard-to-reach areas between your teeth, where the average toothbrush simply can't reach. Interdental brushes are excellent tools for removing plaque from these tight spaces, helping to prevent bacteria buildup, cavities and inflammation of the gums. Many people believe that brushing with a regular toothbrush alone is enough to keep their teeth and gums healthy, but clinical studies have shown that roughly 40% of interdental (between the teeth) plaque is still left behind after brushing! Interdental brushes enable you to give your teeth a more thorough cleaning, which will help to prevent gingivitis and periodontal disease.
The two main types of interdental brushes on the market are I-shaped brushes and L-shaped brushes. Both brushes have small bristled heads that resemble pipe cleaners, with the only obvious difference being the actual shape of the head. The I-shaped brushes help you to clean the teeth that can be reached "head-on", such as your front teeth (upper and lower), as well as your incisors and canines. The L-shaped brushes help you clean the teeth that are further back in your mouth (i.e. your molars). Interdental brushes are commonly available from pharmacies, and they come in various widths to accommodate the different size spaces between your teeth. Depending upon the particular shape of your teeth, you may have to use different sized brushes.
How to use interdental brushes:
1. Determine which brush you're going to use based on which area you're going to clean first. For practical purposes, most people start with the front teeth (top and bottom) and work their way back. For front teeth, use the I-shaped brush, and for back teeth, use the L-shaped brush.
2. Starting with your top front teeth, gently insert the I-shaped brush into the triangle-shaped space between your teeth. Do not attempt to force the brush into an area; try to work it in gently first, but if it simply doesn't fit well, you may need to try a smaller size brush. Once the brush has been inserted, move it back and forth at a medium pace, making sure to run the length of the brush before moving it in the opposite direction. Repeat this for the top front incisors and canines as well.
3. With the same I-shaped brush, perform the same motions for your bottom front teeth, incisors and canines. If you notice any food particles or plaque beginning to accumulate on the bristles between uses, you can rinse the brush head as needed.
4. Switch to the L-shaped brush to handle the back teeth. Insert the brush from the tongue side and perform the same back-and-forth motion for these areas as well. It's going to be a little more difficult to find the "sweet spot" for the back teeth due to limited visibility, so it will take a little practice before you get a feel for it.
You have to clean the interdental brush with running water after inserting it in each gap. Dipping the brush in an antiseptic gel or mouthwash is also recommended. It is a good idea to follow up your cleaning with a mouthwash rinse in order to thoroughly disinfect your mouth.