Have you just started wearing orthodontic braces and find it hard to properly brush your teeth? You’re not alone. Adequate dental care is a never-ending challenge for patients wearing braces, especially since reaching all the nooks and crannies between the teeth and the braces themselves is no easy task. At the same time, it’s hard to use dental floss to clean your teeth with wires and brackets standing in the way!
Luckily, there’s a tool at your disposal that combines the functionalities of both toothbrushes and dental floss for optimal dental hygiene: interdental brushes!
What Are Interdental Brushes?
Interdental brushes — also called interproximal brushes or interdental cleaners — are small dental tools specially designed to clean the spaces between your teeth unreachable for a regular toothbrush. These spaces are particularly prone to the buildup of food particles and plaque, which can spearhead the onset of gum disease and tooth decay.
Interdental cleaners consist of a small, narrow brush head attached to a handle. The brush head is typically made of fine bristles arranged in a cylindrical or conical shape. The handle may be straight or angled, and some models feature a flexible or bendable neck to allow for better access to hard-to-reach areas.
Interdental brushes come in a variety of sizes to fit different spaces. Your oral health professional will help you determine which size and type of interdental brush best suits your needs. Using an interdental brush in addition to regular brushing and flossing can help keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from plaque and bacteria!
Is Interdental Brushing the Same As Flossing?
Both interdental brushing and flossing aim to clean the tight spaces between your teeth that a regular toothbrush cannot reach. However, they are different in certain aspects.
Interdental brushing involves using a small brush to clean interdental spaces by gently moving back and forth to remove plaque and food particles. Moreover, interdental brushes are available in various sizes and shapes to fit different interdental spaces.
Conversely, flossing involves using a thin, waxed string to clean between your teeth. The floss is inserted into the interdental spaces and repeatedly moved up and down to remove debris and food particles. However, flossing requires a certain level of dexterity and can take some practice to master.
Both interdental brushing and flossing are imperative for good oral health, and either should be incorporated into your daily oral care routine. Consult a dentist or dental hygienist to determine which method is best for your individual needs.
4 Reasons Why You Should Use an Interdental Brush With Braces!
Using interdental brushes in conjunction with regular toothbrushing will provide several benefits for patients with braces, including:
- Effective plaque removal: Braces create additional nooks and crannies where food particles and plaque can accumulate, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. Interdental brushes are designed to clean these hard-to-reach areas more effectively than a traditional toothbrush alone.
- Improved gum health: Interdental brushes help prevent gum disease by removing plaque and food particles that can irritate and inflame the gums.
- Healthier breath: The buildup of food particles around braces can cause bad breath. Regularly using interdental brushes will help remove these particles and keep your breath minty fresh!
- Reduced risk of oral health issues: Poor oral hygiene during orthodontic treatment can lead to cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues. Using interdental brushes will reduce the risk of dental issues while keeping your mouth healthy!
How To Use an Interdental Brush
Following these simple guidelines will help maximize the effectiveness of your interdental brush:
- Select an interdental brush matching the interdental space you intend to clean. Consult an oral health professional if unsure how to proceed.
- Gently insert the brush into the interdental space, using a back-and-forth motion to work it between your teeth. Be careful not to force the brush too hard, as the excess pressure will damage your gums.
- Once the brush is in place, move it back and forth a few times to clean the interdental area. Use a gentle, circular motion, and avoid scrubbing too hard.
- Move the brush to the next interdental space and repeat the process. Be sure to clean all the spaces between your teeth.
- Rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after interdental brushing to remove any remaining plaque and food debris.
- Thoroughly rinse the interdental brush with water and allow it to dry before storing it in a clean, dry container.
Remember to use an interdental brush, in addition to regular teeth brushing and flossing, as part of your daily oral hygiene routine, and to consult with your dentist if you have any questions or concerns.
How Long Does an Interdental Brush Last?
The lifespan of an interdental brush depends on several factors, including how often you use it, how well you take care of it, and how hard you brush. On average, interdental brushes can last anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. In general, you should follow the manufacturer’s instructions for replacing your interdental brush and be sure to replace it regularly to ensure optimal effectiveness and hygiene.
You should replace your interdental brush when the bristles become worn or bent or if they start to fray or lose their shape. Using a worn-out brush can be less effective and may cause damage to your oral tissues!
It’s also important to rinse your interdental brush thoroughly after each use and store it in a clean, dry container to help extend its lifespan. Avoid using hot water, as it can damage the bristles, and never share your interdental brush with others to avoid the risk of cross-contamination.
How To Choose the Perfect Interdental Brush
Choosing the right interdental brush is essential to ensure that you effectively clean the spaces between your teeth without causing damage to your mouth. Here are some factors to consider when selecting an interdental brush:
- Size: Interdental brushes come in different sizes to fit different interdental spaces. Choose an interdental brush that fits snugly but comfortably between your teeth without causing pain or bleeding.
- Shape: Interdental brushes are available in different shapes, such as conical or cylindrical. Choose a shape that fits your interdental spaces and allows you to easily reach all areas.
- Bristle stiffness: Interdental brushes come in different bristle stiffness levels. Choose a brush with soft or medium bristles to avoid damaging your gums.
- Handle length: Interdental brushes come with different handle lengths, some with longer handles that may be easier to grip or reach hard-to-reach areas.
- Brand: Choose a reputable brand of interdental brush to ensure you use a high-quality product that effectively cleans your oral cavity.
- Your dentist’s recommendation: Consult with your dentist to determine the best interdental brush for your individual needs.
Why Do My Gums Bleed After Using Interdental Brushes?
Bleeding while using interdental brushes can signify gum disease or gingivitis. Interdental brushes are designed to clean the areas between your teeth and along the gumline where plaque and bacteria accumulate, and they can help remove plaque and bacteria that regular brushing and flossing may not reach.
However, if your gum tissues are already inflamed or infected, they may bleed when you use an interdental brush to clean them. This bleeding is a sign of inflammation and irritation and should be evaluated by your dentist to determine the underlying cause.
An interdental brushing that is too large or hard can also cause bleeding. In this case, it is best to switch to a smaller and softer brush and to use gentle pressure when cleaning between your teeth.
It’s important to remember that bleeding gums should not be ignored, as they can point toward a more serious underlying condition. Consult with your dentist if you experience bleeding gums when using an interdental brush or during any other oral hygiene practices.
Start Your Orthodontic Treatment at Patuxent Orthodontics!
Contact Patuxent Orthodontics if orthodontic care is the way to achieve the beautiful smile of your dreams! Whether you want to learn more about the benefits of our orthodontic appliances or have questions about the process, use our live chat or call (240) 802-7217 or send us a message through our contact us page to connect with our friendly staff today and book a free consultation! Our office, located at 44220 Airport View Dr., Hollywood, MD 20636, proudly serves Maryland’s Patuxent area, as well as the Greater Washington DC area. So, if you’re residing in California, Lexington Park, and Great Mills and are looking for one of the best orthodontists in MD, don’t hesitate to visit our office! We also invite you to keep up with our blog to get answers to many of the frequently asked questions about maintaining sparkling oral health and follow us on Facebook and Instagram to become a part of our smiling community!