Interdental Brushes: Basics for Patients

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Toothbrushes have certainly come a long way from the horse hair versions of the 1700s, and although they are an essential part of oral hygiene today, they’re still not an all-in-one solution. While we have all sorts of different shapes and sizes of bristle designed to get into all those hard to reach places, there’s still one part of the mouth that often gets missed out: the area in between your teeth.

The reason, of course, is that toothbrush bristles simply aren’t small enough or fine enough to reach through the gaps in the teeth, which can sometimes be very tiny. Small food particles can easily get trapped in between the teeth, increasing the risk of bacteria and plaque build ups. This is why a lot of dentists across the US are now striving to improve awareness of the importance of interdental care.

What is Interdental Care?

Interdental care refers to oral hygiene methods and techniques that are designed to target the areas in between your teeth. There are already a number of interdental care methods commonly used in the United States, such as dental floss and antimicrobial mouthwashes, but there’s also another technique that is becoming increasingly popular, and is already being backed by many dentists: the regular use of interdental brushes.

Interdental brushes are simply very small toothbrushes, with minute bristles that can easily fit in between the teeth to ensure a good, thorough clean. They come in many sizes depending on how large the gaps between your teeth are. Many people find that they need to use two – or even more – brushes to make sure they’re able to clean between all teeth effectively. Using an interdental brush is very similar to using floss.

What’s Wrong with Flossing?

Despite what you may have read recently, nothing! Flossing, in addition to regular brushing, can be a great way to maintain excellent oral health and hygiene, but interdental brushes have been found to be more effective at plaque removal than floss, which is why many people are choosing to make the switch. Some studies have also found that interdental brushing can be more than twice as effective at reducing gingivitis. There are also a few extra advantages of interdental brushes over flossing, such as the ability to get a more thorough clean.


A lot of people using an interdental brush for the first time will notice that their gums bleed slightly during use. This is completely normal, and the bleeding should subside once the gums become healthier. If you find that the bleeding continues, or that your gums are very sore, it’s well worth going to see your dentist – and taking your brush with you. Your dentist will be able to check that you’re using the right sized brush for your teeth, and that you’re using the brush correctly. Your dentist will also be able to check for other causes of bleeding, such as periodontal disease, for example, which should be treated.

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