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. Many dentists believe that interdental brushes clean better than 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. They 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 proxy brushes work?
Once you find one that is the appropriate size, using an interdental brush is simple. You can consult your dentist or dental hygienist for help selecting the size. You simply insert it between your teeth and use a back and forth motion to clean the sides of each tooth.
When you start this new habit, you may have to force the brush between your teeth. The coated wire has a tendency to bend in tight areas. As this technique becomes a habit, you will find that you are able to use larger and larger sizes. You want them to rub tightly against the root surfaces. That way the bristles go into the deeper grooves.
To be sure that you do not skip any spaces, it’s a good idea to start with the end teeth and work your way around on the top and bottom rows. If you have had cosmetic dental work such as veneers, your cosmetic dentist may ask that you not proxy brush your veneers. Proxy brushing can create black triangles between your veneers.
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 versions from Oral B with a longer handle that eases cleaning between teeth.
Gums are receding:
If you have a history of gum problems or have receding gums, then root surfaces are exposed. The roots have many crevices and difficult to reach surfaces, especially between the back teeth. It is very difficult to clean the spaces between roots. Using a toothbrush and floss won’t reach all of these spaces. Bacteria will build up there no matter how good your daily routine is. Water flossers and dental picks can’t clean these areas well either. The only way to keep the roots of your teeth clean is to use these Trav-ler brand devices between them. These proxy brushes can reach into those spaces better than anything else.
Teeth are spaced or gapped:
Flossing can’t accurately remove all of the plaque and food debris from your teeth and gums like an interdental brush can. When your teeth are very tightly spaced, interdental brushing becomes more difficult to do. The spaces between the last two molars of the upper jaw has a very tight space. This is the most difficult place to fully insert the brush.
Proxy brushes are very helpful with braces or dental implants
Wearing braces makes flossing almost impossible, but interdental flossers can reach spots between teeth and between brackets that your toothbrush and floss can’t clean. If you wear bridges or dentures, they 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. Whatever your situation, be sure that you consult your doctor before choosing the proper size and method.
Can interdental brushing be used to apply medicinal rinses?
There are commonly used mouthwashes that have antibacterial qualities. By dipping your proxy brush into the rinse before inserting it, you can apply the agents directly to the tissue that needs it.
The best hygiene habits include using a proxy brush
Dr. Fondriest cares about the health and beauty of your smile. Learn the best oral hygiene habits to prevent gum disease. Call us to meet our dental professionals at 847.234 for your appointment to learn more about proper tooth care habits. Our office serves patients in the greater Chicago area.