Did you know that when you clean your teeth with a toothbrush alone you are only removing around 60% of the plaque from the teeth, the remaining plaque sits in the spaces between the teeth so to ensure you are cleaning your teeth effectively you need to be using something to reach these areas. This post will explain the options that are available to you although it is always best to follow the advice of your dentist or hygienist.
Floss – floss is a really easy and effective way to clean between the teeth, you will need to pull off a long piece and wrap it around your index fingers leaving approximately 3-4cm free to use, this can then be placed in between the teeth and gently dragged across the sides of the teeth in a V motion to remove the plaque. Avoid using a sawing motion as this can traumatise the gums.
Interdental brushes – These brushes are perfect for cleaning in between large gaps in the teeth, these can be pushed between the gaps two to three times, ensure you wipe the brush with a tissue before moving on to the next gap to avoid spreading the plaque around. Using the right size is essential so ask your hygienist or dentist to check which size you would need.
Floss picks – This is very similar to floss as it is a piece of floss on a plastic pick, this allows for easier access in the back teeth and should be used in the same way as string floss.
Water flossers and air flossers – These are devices that spray out water or a combination of water and air. Whilst this method of interdental cleaning isn’t as effective as floss or interdental brushes it is certainly better than not using anything between your teeth at all. Water of airflossers are good for anyone who may find floss or brushes too difficult to hold but they can be messy so be sure to use them in a bathroom. You can also use diluted mouthwash in water/air flossers to give you a fresher feel, your dentist or hygienist will be able to tell you if these would be suitable for you and can show you the best way to use these devices.
You should avoid using anything in the mouth that is not designed for interdental cleaning, whilst wooden toothpicks can dislodge pieces of food that get stuck they can also cause trauma to the gums and do not effectively remove everything. It is important to remember that cleaning in between the teeth should be carried out at least once a day as part of your normal oral hygiene routine rather than just when food gets caught between the teeth.