Interdental Brushing | Using a Proxy Brush

Interdental brushes

Interdental brushes or proxy brushes are thought to be the most effective way to clean between posterior teeth.

Do you skip flossing, or is it difficult because of dexterity issues, spacing between your teeth, or dental work? If you hate flossing, or find that it isn’t effective, you’re not alone. Dr. James Fondriest, a Chicago dentist, recommends interdental brushing (also called using a proxy brush) as a fantastic, and often better, alternative to flossing.


What are interdental brushes?

A proxy brush has a small coated wire topped with bristles (resembling a pipe cleaner), attached to plastic handles, that clean between teeth. The tops are usually disposable. The brushes come in a variety of sizes to fit between spaces in different people’s teeth. Some people need more than one size because their tooth spacing varies.

How do interdental brushes work?

Once you find a brush that is the appropriate size (consult your dentist for help), using an interdental brush is simple. You simply insert the brush gently between teeth and use a back-and-forth motion to clean the sides of each tooth. To be sure that you do not skip any teeth, it’s a good idea to start with the end teeth and work your way around on the top and bottom rows (or figure out your own pattern).

Who can benefit from interdental brushes?

Interdental flossing makes cleaning between teeth easier and more effective in many cases:

Flossing is too difficult:

You might have trouble handling floss. Conditions such as arthritis can affect your dexterity or make flossing painful. You can find an interdental brush with a long handle that eases cleaning between teeth.

Gums are receding:

If you have receding gums, flossing and brushing can’t reach all of the spaces between teeth and gums, and bacteria can build there. A proxy brush can reach those spaces.

Teeth are spaced or gapped:

When your teeth are not tightly spaced, flossing can’t accurately remove all of the plaque and food debris from your teeth and gums like an interdental brush can.

Braces or dental fixtures:

Wearing braces makes flossing almost impossible, but interdental flossers can reach spots between teeth and between brackets and tooth surfaces, where brushing and flossing can’t clean. If you wear bridges or dentures, a proxy brush can also help you clean the spaces between your gums and the fixtures.

You might also want to try interdental brushing because it is more convenient than using dental floss. Combining flossing with these brushes is even better. Whatever your situation, be sure that you consult your doctor about interproximal brushing so that you are choosing the proper size and method.

The best hygiene habits include using a proxy brush

Dr. Fondriest cares about the health and beauty of your smile. Call us at 847.234 for your appointment to learn more about proper tooth care habits. Our office serves patients in the greater Chicago area.