Interdental Brushing

An interdental cleaning product is typically a handle on one end and a narrow brush on one the other end that’s inserted between the teeth to clean the side surfaces of teeth and gums.  Some common brands are Proxabrush by Butler or Oral-B Interdental Brush.  Cleaning with an interdental brush breaks up the soft plaque between the teeth by mechanical action, just as flossing is.

Some people use an interdental device instead of floss, and statistically both are equally effective.  But using both practices (flossing and interdental cleaning) is better because one compensates for less-than-perfect technique in the other, especially for troublesome locations on the gums.

Interdental cleaning can be done with a dry brush, but the mechanical action in the interproximal area can be complemented by substances that are cleansing (baking soda and salt), acid-neutralizing (baking soda), antiseptic (cranberry, and peppermint), soothing (peppermint and myrrh, or a nutrient for cell growth (Vitamin-C).  You may find that you like the result of interdental cleaning using substances like these.  As with brushing and flossing, toothpaste should not be used prior to using an interdental device with natural substances, as toothpaste tends to leave a film of residue that acts as a barrier to the natural substances.

If using a powder of natural substances, a small amount is placed in the dry palm of a hand immediately prior to interdental cleaning.  A spot about the diameter of a pencil eraser should be sufficient.  Put the powder in your mouth.  As it quickly dissolves, swirl the thin liquid solution to one side of your mouth, over either the upper teeth or the lower.  Try to hold the solution in your mouth, at least until after you’ve cleaned that quadrant.  This will allow the solution to be transported by the interdental brush to the surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Insert the moistened brush end of the interdental device between teeth and lightly brush the gums.  When you are done cleaning between the sides in one quadrant, you should repeat the process with a bit more powder for each of the remaining three quadrants.

It’s not enough just to position the brush between the teeth; make sure to brush the gums at the base of the teeth so that the gum margins are mechanically cleaned and stimulated.  Don’t force the brush between teeth if the space is too small, as this puts too much stress on the periodontal ligaments or the teeth themselves.  Instead rely on flossing for these tight areas.

 

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