Using a Proxy Brush to Clean Between Teeth

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Regular brushing and flossing not only keep your teeth shiny white, but also help you achieve a healthy mouth in the fight against plaque. Some people prefer a manual toothbrush and string floss, while others might opt for alternative flossing devices. A proxy brush can serve as another tool in your oral care toolbox.

Importance of Interdental Cleaning

The American Dental Association notes that using an interdental cleaner, such as floss, is essential when it comes to caring for your teeth and gums. Cleaning between the teeth daily allows you to remove plaque from those hard-to-reach spots your toothbrush can't access. Plaque formation on the teeth and around the gumline may cause cavities and gum disease, so it's critical to establish a routine of interdental cleaning.

Using Proxy Brushes

Dental tape, dental picks and water flossers are a few alternatives to traditional string floss. Another alternative is a proxy brush, also called an interdental brush. The brush has a plastic handle and a small head of bristles held together by a wire. It is designed to fit between the teeth, and you can choose a brush size that works for your individual tooth spacing.

Using one isn't complicated. The National Health Service recommends using an interdental brush once daily. Gently insert the brush between your teeth. If it feels too tight, don't force it. Use a smaller brush instead. Go from tooth to tooth until you've thoroughly cleaned each space.

Proxy brushes are easy to find and available to purchase at pharmacies, grocery stores or online. Just like dental floss, they're quite portable. You can take them on the go if you need a quick tooth cleaning after a meal out.

Benefits of Proxy Brushes

proxy brush can be a great alternative for people who, for one reason or another, find dental floss to be challenging. Those who have joint problems or limited mobility might have a difficult time holding floss, in which case an interdental brush could provide a solution. Individuals with dentures, bridges or implants might also prefer using a brush to clean around their dental devices.

People with fixed braces — both teens and adults — might find brushes ideal, as it can be difficult or impossible to use dental floss when braces are secured to teeth. Additionally, individuals who have gum recession or wide gaps between their teeth might prefer a brush, as floss might not properly fill and clean the space.

There is some evidence that a proxy brush is more effective than dental floss in cleaning between the teeth. A study published in Dental Health found that interdental brushes removed more plaque in the spaces between the teeth compared to traditional floss.

No matter what method you choose, don't forget your interdental spaces in your daily oral care routine. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist if you have any questions about proxy brushes or need help finding the right flossing device for you.

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.