Do I really need to clean between my teeth?

8th August 2019

We all know that brushing our teeth twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste is an essential part of our oral hygiene routine. But cleaning the front and back of your teeth is only part of the story. Food and plaque can build up in areas that you can’t see, or that your toothbrush simply can’t reach, particularly if you have teeth that have no gaps between them.

What to do?
We strongly recommend cleaning between your teeth on a daily basis to ensure that plaque is regularly removed. A build-up of plaque can lead to tooth decay, tartar build-up, gum disease and even eventually tooth loss.

Floss or interdental brush?
Though there are benefits to both methods, we recommend using an interdental brush of the appropriate size as the main way to clean between your teeth. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, if flossing is done too forcefully, there is a risk of cutting into the gum, potentially providing a breeding ground for infection. Secondly, it’s difficult to reach into the back of the mouth with floss, meaning that some teeth don’t get the attention they require. An interdental brush not only allows you to access all your teeth relatively easily, it will also clean the curved sides of each tooth, ensuring that you’ve reached all areas. We do recognise that floss can be useful if you have teeth that are very close together – in this case an interdental brush may not fit. Many gaps are too wide for floss and interdental brushes are the only way to really effectively ensure these are clean.

What if your gums bleed use an interdental brush or floss?
Although we’d always say to consult your dentist if you find that your gums bleed easily, some minor bleeding may occur when flossing or using an interdental brush, particularly if you have sensitive teeth or are doing so for the first time. Choosing a soft floss and/or using a light touch with your brush will help to minimise any bleeding. It’s important to recognise that healthy gums shouldn’t bleed, so focus on those areas where you do notice bleeding and things should improve quickly. If the gums are bleeding, it’s usually a sign that you’re getting into the places that need the most attention so keep working at it but let us know if it’s not getting better.

From what age should you floss?
It’s often difficult for young children to manipulate traditional floss. Gentle use of an interdental brush of the correct size or a floss pick (a plastic handle with floss strung between two prongs) may be options from the age of 5-7. As ever, we’re here to help so please give us a call or pop into reception if you’d like advice on the best option for you.


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01423 503 428

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Coppice View Dental Care
104 Kings Road, Harrogate, North Yorkshire, HG1 5HH