When we think about keeping our teeth and gums healthy, what comes to mind for many of us is a gentle toothbrush, a good brushing technique and some fluoride-containing toothpaste. True, these are the main ingredients in keeping the largest part of our teeth and gums healthy. However, as our understanding of the oral flora progresses, we have come to realise that conventional brushing methods still fail to access a neglected part of the mouth: the interdental space.
The interdental space is the most inaccessible and vulnerable part of the mouth and as such the perfect place for disease-causing bacteria and plaque to accumulate and cause eventual damage to the teeth, periodontium and gingivae. Even more so than dental floss, mouthwash and the bristles of conventional toothbrushes, interdental brushes have proven to be the most effective tool in removing virulent bacteria from these spaces between our teeth.
“In a 2017 study, we managed to collect over 16 billion virulent bacteria from each interdental space in young, healthy adults using interdental brushes, proving them to be the most efficient tool for cleaning interdentally,” said Prof. Denis Bourgeois, dean of the University of Lyon’s dental faculty in France, and a pioneer in research on oral prophylaxis, interdental biofilm management and interdental brushing techniques. Unfortunately, the use of interdental brushes has not yet become commonplace.
Bourgeois continued, “Interdental brushes are relatively new. The same way dentists in the 1950s had to explain to their patients that brushing their teeth with a normal brush is necessary, people nowadays need to be informed that brushing interdentally is just as important. Both historically and traditionally, dental floss has been the tool of choice for cleaning narrow spaces, as it has been somewhat of a market leader, as well as the only way to access the interdental space for people with healthy gums. However, using dental floss is no longer preferred as, unlike using interdental brushes, its use is not supported by conclusive scientific evidence. And, with today’s fine interdental brushes, we have the most efficient means to access 98 per cent of all interdental spaces in healthy people!”
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