Interdental Cleaning and Why it’s Important for Good Oral Health

Woman flossing her teeth in mirror at home

Oral health is integral to maintaining overall wellness, but many people neglect one critical part of their oral hygiene routine: interdental cleaning. Unlike brushing, which cleans the large chewing surfaces of the teeth, interdental cleaning focuses on removing debris and plaque from between the teeth and below the gum line.

This important step in your at-home oral hygiene routine reduces the risk of dental diseases, maintains oral health, and ensures a confident, healthy smile.

Understanding Interdental Cleaning

Interdental cleaning refers to cleaning between the teeth using specialized tools like dental floss or interdental brushes. These tools reach places that toothbrushes can’t, especially the small spaces between teeth and along the gum line.

Dental plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, constantly forms on and between your teeth, and if it isn’t removed daily, it can harden into a calculus called tartar and lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

Importance of Interdental Cleaning

Interdental cleaning effectively removes plaque and food debris between the teeth and gum line, preventing gum disease and tooth decay and maintaining fresh breath. It complements regular brushing and professional cleanings to ensure a comprehensive oral hygiene routine. Reasons to clean between your teeth include:

Prevention of Gum Disease

Regular interdental cleaning can help prevent periodontal (gum) diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis. These conditions arise from plaque buildup, which, if left untreated, can cause inflammation and potential loss of teeth.

Tooth Decay Prevention

Interdental cleaning removes food particles and plaque from between your teeth, which are areas often missed by tooth brushing alone. These areas are breeding grounds for bacteria that can cause cavities.

Fresh Breath

Food remnants, plaque, and bacteria are the primary causes of bad breath. As the bacteria break down the food, they release foul-smelling volatile sulfur compounds (VSC). Interdental cleaning can help keep your breath fresh by removing these elements.

Preventing Staining

Pigments in foods and beverages can become trapped inside the plaque, which leads to enamel staining due to prolonged exposure. By removing plaque regularly, interdental cleaning can help prevent staining and keep your teeth looking whiter.

Interdental Cleaning Techniques

Interdental cleaning is crucial for maintaining optimal oral health by removing plaque and debris from the spaces between teeth where toothbrush bristles cannot reach. Two commonly used interdental cleaning techniques are dental flossing and interdental brushes.

Dental Flossing

Dental flossing uses a thin string of waxed or unwaxed nylon or plastic to remove plaque and debris from the spaces between teeth. It is estimated that up to 80% of interdental plaque can be removed with dental floss.

By gently inserting the floss between the teeth and below the gum line and moving it in a back-and-forth motion, dental flossing helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath. It also promotes healthier gums by removing food particles and bacteria that can accumulate in these hard-to-reach areas.

Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes are convenient and effective tools for interdental cleaning, complementing traditional brushing and flossing techniques. These small, cone-shaped brushes with bristles are designed to clean the spaces between teeth.

Interdental brushes come in various sizes to accommodate different interdental spaces. By gently inserting the brush into the gaps between teeth and moving it in a back-and-forth or rotating motion, interdental brushes efficiently remove plaque, food particles, and debris. They are beneficial for individuals with gum disease, larger interdental spaces, or orthodontic appliances.

A study comparing interdental brushes to floss found that they performed better than floss, removing more interdental plaque.

Regular Dental Check-Ups

Despite your best efforts at home, professional cleanings are essential. Dentists and dental hygienists have specialized tools and expertise to clean areas that might be missed during routine home care, such as below the gum line. They can also provide personalized advice to improve your interdental cleaning technique.

Arrange Your Professional Cleaning and Dental Exam

Interdental cleaning is a crucial aspect of maintaining oral health. While it might seem like an extra step in your oral hygiene routine, it can prevent various dental issues, leading to healthier teeth and gums and a more confident smile.

Combined with regular dental check-ups, a good interdental cleaning regimen will ensure a lifetime of excellent oral health. Consult with a dentist at Your Valley Dental to check your interdental health.