Cleaning between teeth: The secret behind a truly healthy smile

The secret to having a beautiful, healthy smile is maintaining impeccable oral hygiene. We all know how important it is to brush our teeth twice a day to keep them clean and devoid of debris and bacteria. Ideally, it would be best to use a good quality dentist-recommended toothpaste and soft nylon toothbrush to clean your teeth. However, some of us forget one small but integral addition to our regular oral hygiene practice: cleaning between the teeth.

Why is it important to clean between teeth?
Brushing teeth is one of the most effective ways of keeping our teeth clean, but it only reaches about 60% of a tooth’s surface. The surface between two teeth is not reachable by a usual toothbrush and often gets missed. The tiny space between two teeth, also known as interdental spaces, is a favorable hiding spot for disease-causing bacteria.

Our mouth is a host of millions of bacteria, and while most of them are harmless and even essential, some can be disease-causing under suitable conditions. These suitable conditions are provided to the bacteria by the food debris that gets dislodged between two teeth.

Plaque is a sticky, yellowish film that forms daily on the surfaces of the teeth and houses these disease-causing bacteria. Proper toothbrushing eliminates plaque from the tooth’s outer surface but fails to remove the plaque that forms between the teeth.

Bacteria from this plaque metabolize the sugars from the food debris and release toxic by-products in the mouth responsible for oral ailments like dental cavities and gum diseases.

Interdental cleaning ensures proper and complete plaque removal, thus reducing your risk of contracting dental infections, dental decay, and gum diseases.

Tools for proper interdental cleaning
To ensure you are correctly cleaning between your teeth, you must have the right tool. Fortunately, there are various options for you to choose from, and you can select one which fits your needs and requirement.

Floss is the most commonly used interdental cleaning aid. It is usually made from nylon, can be waxed or unwaxed, and comes in a plastic case.

To properly floss your teeth, break off about 18 inches of floss and wrap the two ends on the middle fingers of both your hands. Hold the floss and make it taut. Next, guide the floss between your teeth and push it down, forming a c-shape on one tooth while coming up. Continue till you have covered all the teeth. Make sure you discard this piece after a single-use.

In recent times, single floss sticks have also been made available in pharmacies to ensure a hassle-free flossing experience.

Interdental Brush
It is a specially designed toothbrush that has a small, conical shape tip and is used to clean the small gaps between the teeth, gums, and areas around braces. The shape of the brush allows it to pass through the tiniest of spaces and ensures adequate cleaning.

Oral Irrigators (Water Irrigators)
Oral irrigators or water irrigators have gained immense popularity in recent times. These devices let out a jet stream of water which flushes out the bacterial debris lodged between two teeth. It is a safe and reliable interdental cleaning and has shown effective results.

Cleaning between teeth is vital for a healthy smile and must be done at least once every day. If you have any doubts about interdental cleaning or which tool to use, you can also consult with your dentist. After all, excellent oral health and a healthy smile are key to our physical and mental well-being.