Interdental brushes are a practical, easy-to-use alternative to flossing. Their look similar to a tiny bottle brush. These brushes include a short handle that is attached to a thin, flexible wire that is covered in soft bristles. They work by helping to clear away the food, plaque and bacteria in between the teeth. The brushes come in a range of sizes and each brush can be used multiple times before being thrown in the bin.
Interdental brushes can be used instead of floss or together with floss or other items to clean between the teeth. For some people, interdental brushes may be more effective than regular string floss for cleaning between the teeth. They can be helpful for people with braces, fine motor issues, or large spaces between the teeth where floss cannot fill the gap properly. Interdental brushes can be a good option for people who just don't like using floss.
If you have braces and find using dental floss tricky, interdental brushes can be a great option to clean between the teeth as well as the brackets and wire. They are perfect to use anytime as they are quick and easy to use.
An interdental brush being used to clean between the teeth. Getty Images.
How to choose the correct size interdental brush
Interdental brushes come in a range of sizes. The bristles should fit firmly but comfortably between the teeth. Only a light pressure should be needed to push the brush between the teeth. The brush should not be forced. It is important to choose the correct size so the interdental brush can provide you with the most benefit.
The spaces between your teeth can vary in size. Thererfore you may need to use a different brush size for different areas of the mouth.
If you are unsure about which size interdental brush you should use, your dentist can provide you with this advice as well as show you how to use these in your mouth.
Interdental brushing technique
Your dentist can provide hands on advice on how to use an interdental brush correctly but here are some basic tips you can follow:
- Remove the plastic cap from the brush.
- Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and index finger.
- Gently insert the brush into the triangular-shaped space between the teeth with a gentle twist or wriggling action.
- Push the brush through the space and then pull it back out. Do this a few times for each space.
- Rinse the brush bristles with water after cleaning each space.
- To reach in between the back teeth, you may wish to gently bend the wire to get better access.
- Once finished, rinse the bristles and place the plastic cap back on.
Caring for your interdental brush
Most interdental brushes can be used multiple times before they need to be thrown away. After each use, the bristles should be rinsed well with water and the cap should be placed back on before the brush is put away. When the bristles begin to look worn or the wire is bent or twisted, it is time to replace your interdental brush with a new one.