Interdental brushes offer a practical, easy-to-use alternative to flossing. Their appearance is commonly compared to a tiny bottle brush. The short handle is attached to a thin, flexible wire that is covered in bristles. They come in a range of sizes and are able to be reused multiple times before being thrown away.
Interdental brushes can be used instead of floss or in addition to it. They work by helping to disrupt food, plaque and bacteria in between the teeth in the areas the toothbrush cannot reach. The brush head is inserted in the trianglar-shaped space between the teeth, close to the gums. For some people, interdental brushes are more effective than regular string floss for cleaning between the teeth.
If you have braces and find using dental floss tricky, interdental brushes can be a great option to clean between the teeth and the brackets and wire. They are perfect to do anytime as they are generally quick and easy to use.
An interdental brush being used to clean between the teeth. Getty Images.
Choosing an interdental brush
Interdental brushes come in a range of sizes. The bristles should fit comfortably and snugly between the teeth. Only light pressure should be required 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 size of spaces between the teeth can vary in size. You might need to use different brush sizes in different areas of your mouth.
If you are unsure about the best size interdental brush to suit your mouth, your dentist can provide you with this advice and show you how to use these in your mouth.
Interdental brushing technique
Your dentist can instruct you on how to use an interdental brush correctly but here are some basic tips you can follow:
- 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 so a few times for each space.
- Rinse the brush bristles before moving on to clean between the next two teeth.
- To reach in between the back teeth, you may wish to gently bend the wire to improve access.
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 and the cap should be replaced before storing the interdental brush. When the bristles or wire appears too worn, or it bends, it is time to replace your interdental brush with a new one.