Interdental cleaners are tools used to better clean the gums and between the teeth, tools such as dental floss and woodsticks. Even the most efficient toothbrushing technique would not result in removal of all plaque deposits. Whilst mouthrinsing will help in further plaque control, use of dental floss and woodsticks are often recommended by dentists and dental hygienists.
These are recommended especially for patients who have particular need such as those with extensive fillings, crowns or bridge, orthodontic patients or patients with particular periodontal problems. Interdental cleaning aids are not generally recommended for children as they may damage their gums by incorrect usage.
Recommended Flossing Technique
- Starting with clean hands, break off about 45cm (18 inches) of dental floss from its dispenser.
- Wind one end of the floss around a middle finger of one hand. Wrap the other end and most of the floss on the same finger of the other hand, leaving a small length (7-10cm/3-4 inches) stretching between the hands.
- With the floss held tightly between thumb and forefinger or using your interdental flosser, use a gentle sawing motion to guide the floss between adjacent teeth.
- Take care not to snap the floss against the gums when doing this to avoid injury.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth and gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
- With the floss kept tight against the side of the tooth, gently move the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this scrubbing action to clean plaque off the adjacent tooth.
- If preferred, interdental flossers can be used (see images).
- Move the floss back out from between the flossed teeth and repeat this procedure till al teeth have been cleaned.
- As the floss gets frayed or dirty, unwind unused floss from one hand and take up the used slack on the other hand.
- Wash hands again after flossing.
Plaque Disclosing Agents
It is important to encourage people to monitor the effectiveness of their plaque control practices. Plaque disclosing agents stain the dental plaque which remains on teeth and are a simple way of highlighting deficiencies in brushing technique.