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Do I need to clean between my teeth?

You may as well ask : "Do I need to brush my teeth?" Yes, of course you need to clean between your teeth! Inter-dental cleaning is just as important as tooth brushing, maybe even more so because it's very difficult to see these areas by direct vision; dentists typically rely on bitewing x-rays to check for decay between the teeth. We recommend cleaning between your teeth at least once a day.

At ARK Dental, patients sometimes tell us that they have read in the media that the benefits of flossing are unproven and that there is "weak evidence" to suggest that it is beneficial; in other words that it is a waste of time! However, when you read the articles you discover that the crux of this headlining grabbing statement is that the majority of people do not know how to floss correctly and therefore for these people flossing is indeed ineffective.

Hopefully we can persuade you to clean between your teeth and as long as your technique is correct and you do it regularly then you will be doing yourself a good service.

If you do not use anything other than a toothbrush you are leaving about 40% of your tooth surfaces uncleaned; a significant surface area for bacteria to run amok. You will be putting yourself at risk of gingivitis (inflamed gums) which can lead to gum disease, gum recession and ultimately tooth loss as well as tooth decay.

Wouldn't it be better to avoid these problems by implementing a simple oral hygiene routine?

There are several products for interdental cleaning such as:

  • floss/tape

  • inter-dental brushes

  • waterpiks

  • AirFloss.

The most common dentist recommended method is to use dental floss or tape. You take a long piece of floss/tape, wrap it around your middle fingers and with your index fingers and thumbs control the tension and movement of it between your teeth. Take it slightly under the gum (1-2mm), create a C shape around the tooth surface and scrape upwards; then repeat the action on the tooth surface on the other side. Do this movement methodically until all the spaces between the teeth have been cleaned. Do not use a sawing movement between your teeth.

If you find flossing too difficult then use inter-dental brushes. Simply push the brush in and out the spaces between your teeth until they have all been cleaned. For most people the spaces between the front teeth will be too tight for inter-dental brushes but floss will fit easily and access is good.

Some prefer Waterpiks or AirFloss to the mechanical methods outlined above. These devices have a reservoir which you can fill with water or mouthwash which is dispensed through the nozzles when they are placed between the teeth. However, we believe that the most effective clean is achieved mechanically, that is with floss or an inter-dental brush against the tooth surface.

Whichever method suits your lifestyle make sure you stick with it and make it a regular part of your daily oral hygiene habit.

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