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 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 may be more effective than regular dental floss for cleaning between all your 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.
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 correct size will provide you with the most benefit. The bristles should fit firmly but comfortably between the teeth and should not be forced. Only light pressure should be needed to push the brush between teeth.
The spaces between your teeth can vary in size so 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 tell you as well as show you how to use them.
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.
- You may wish to gently curve the wire to get better access to certain areas. This is a particularly good method for how to floss back teeth.
- 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. 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.