Did you know that floss isn’t the only thing you can use to clean between your teeth? You dental hygienist may have told you about them, but if not, here’s some information on what else can be used that will make your life a lot easier.
Above are some examples of what you may see in your own mouth. The first image shows healthy gums at a healthy level in relationship to the teeth. With gums like these, regular floss is the most recommended tool to get the debris out. If you have really tight contact spaces (this would show up as being really difficult to get a piece of floss between the teeth), don’t use woven floss- use flat waxed floss instead.
In the second image2, you can see recession between the two teeth in the middle. Recession is when your gums move to expose more of the tooth’s surface. Recession isn’t ideal because that means that you have lost bone, which we need to hold our teeth in. Floss may not work in open spaces between teeth depending on how much recession you have due to curves in tooth structure. In order to keep the gums and bones healthy, an interdental brush is a great tool to use. You may have seen interdental brushes being used by kids with braces to clean around the brackets- which is an excellent ortho tool. Interdental brushes can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. To see how to use one, click here.
Depending on how large the spaces are between your teeth, you may need something larger than an interdental brush, but smaller than a toothbrush. These tools are called end-tufted brushes. They can be seen below. Another great option is a rubber tip/ wedge stimulator, which as the name says, has a soft rubber tip on the end of a handle. Both tools can help you to reach the areas of the gums that a strand of floss can’t reach.
If you or your child has braces, all of the above aids can help them to keep a clean mouth. It is especially important to keep the teeth in braces clean. If they aren’t taken care of, they will start to demineralize around the brackets and when the braces come off, you will be able to see the areas that started to break down around the cemented brackets.
In regards to toothpicks, they’re perfectly fine to use! Just make sure you don’t get too aggressive with them- you could end up harming your gums instead of making them better.
The final thing I will talk about is the oral irrigator (water pik). This tool is perfect for anyone and helps to clean your gums better than you might think. Why it can, is because your floss might not be able to reach all the way into the pockets around your teeth, and the floss isn’t able to shape itself to the curves of the roots of your teeth. If you see a periodontist or have dental implants, this would especially good for you to use, because the power of the water can reach deep into your gums and flush out bacteria.
While this tool is more expensive than the other options, it is worth the investment- saving you money on the extra work you will need to have done in the dental office. And, who doesn’t want a healthy mouth?
I hope this helped you to learn a bit more about the different tools that you can use at home to make flossing easier. If you have any questions, let me know!