Interdental cleaning aids

Maintaining good oral hygiene goes beyond regular brushing and flossing. While brushing and flossing are essential, there are often hard-to-reach areas of our mouth that require additional care. 

This is where interdental cleaning aids come into play. 

In this article, we will delve into the world of interdental aids, understanding their importance, and exploring various options available ( dental floss, interdental brushes, wooden toothpicks , oral irrigators, gingival massage) to elevate your oral hygiene routine.
dental floss

What are Interdental cleaning Aids?

Interdental cleaning aids are tools specifically designed to clean the spaces between our teeth, known as interdental spaces.

These spaces often trap food particles, plaque, and bacteria, making them susceptible to dental issues if not properly cleaned.

Interdental aids help remove debris from these areas, promoting better oral health and preventing conditions like gum disease and tooth decay.

Types of Interdental cleaning Aids :

There are mainly five types of interdental aids :

  1. Dental floss
  2. Interdental brushes
  3. Water flossers.
  4. Wooden toothpicks
  5. Gingival massage.

1.Dental Floss:

-Dental floss is one of the most common and widely used interdental aids.

-It consists of a thread that is inserted between the teeth and gently moved back and forth to remove plaque and food particle.

Types of dental floss –

1.Twisted or non-twisted.

2. Bonded or non-bonded

3.Waxed or non-waxed

4.Thick or thin

Factors determining choice of dental floss

  1. Tightness of tooth contacts
  2. Roughness of proximal surface
  3. Patient manual dexterity.

-Floss must contact proximal(side) surface of the tooth from line angle to line angle to clean effectively .

-It should also cover entire proximal surface ,not just slipped apical to the contact area.

Technique of using dental floss :

-Floss should be at least 1218 inches long.

-It is wrapped around fingers or the ends may be tied together in a loop.

-After stretching floss between thumb & forefinger pass it gently through contact area in a ” back & forth ” motion.

-Once floss is apical to the contact area, move it up along the tooth till the contact area & down into the sulcus again, this repeated several times & same is repeated on all the proximal surface of the tooth.

Dental floss using floss holder :

Commonly indicated in patients with low motor control on hands , handicapped & hospitalized patients.

-Ideally floss holder should be rigid enough to hold floss firmly& can be mounted in a very simple way.

– Disadvantages of using dental floss holder :

-Floss holder is more time consuming & must be rethreaded whenever floss become soiled or frayed.


2.Interdental Brushes:

Interdental brushes feature small bristle heads attached to a handle. They come in different sizes to fit various interdental spaces.

By inserting the brush between the teeth, these interdental aids effectively remove plaque and debris from the sides and gaps.

They are particularly useful for those with larger gaps or individuals who struggle with traditional flossing.

Interdental brushes are cone shaped or cylindrical brushes made of bristles mounted on a handle.

Two types of interdental brushes are-

  1. Single tufted or uni-tufted. – used where there is complete loss of papilla.

2. Small conical brush -. when there is moderate papillary recession.


-Interproximal brush are inserted proximally & are activated with short back & forth strokes in between teeth.

-Most useful in furcation areas , isolated gingival recession & on the lingual surface of mandibular molar & premolar .

Interdental brush demo video link.

3. Water Flossers :

-Water flossers, also known as oral irrigators, utilize a stream of water ( water faucet) to clean between teeth and along the gumline.

-Water pressure is steady & is controlled by turning faucet handle.

-Some dentist also use intermittent water jet.

-This option is especially beneficial for individuals with braces, implants, or those who find traditional flossing uncomfortable.

-Water flossers can reach deep into interdental spaces, flushing away bacteria and debris. i.e. disrupts & detoxify subgingival plaque.

  • Also used in delivering antimicrobial agent into periodontal pocket.( subgingival irrigation).

Two types of commonly used irrigator tips for subgingival cleaning are: –

1.annula type (office use)

2. soft rubber tip ( home use by patients)

4. Dental Picks or Stimulators or wooden toothpicks :

Dental picks, also referred to as interdental stimulators, consist of a thin plastic or wooden stick with a tapered end.

Uses :

-They are primarily used to remove plaque and food particles wedged between front teeth.

-Additionally, dental picks can stimulate the gums, promoting blood circulation and gum health when used gently.


-Can not be used in posterior teeth.

5.Gingival massage

-Can be performed with toothbrush, rubber tip stimulator OR front part of forefinger .

-Please make sure while massaging with hand there is be blunt nail, clean & hygienic finger , if you can gloves.

Advantage –

-It produces epithelial thickening , increased blood circulation, increase keratinization ,increased mitotic activity of epithelium & connective tissue & finally relaxation of muscles around teeth.

Technique :

-Massage gum of the upper & lower gingiva completely with or without gel.

– In case of shifting of gumline (gingival recession) massage gumline towards the chewing surface of the tooth. i.e. pull upper gum into lower direction & lower gum into upper direction.

Gum massage complete video link

Factor determining selection of interdental aids are the following types of embrasures.

Type 1 -interdental papilla fills up the embrasure . in this case dental floss is advised

Type 2 – moderate papillary recession – miniature interdental brushes or wooden tips advised.

Type 3 -where complete loss of papilla & interdental gingiva is tightly bound to the underlying bone( diastema – space between teeth) unitufted brush is advised.

Choosing the Right Interdental Aid:

-Selecting the 8 interdental aid depends on various factors, including the size of your interdental spaces, personal preferences, and any dental conditions you may have.

-It is recommended to consult with your dentist or dental hygienist to determine the most suitable interdental aid for your specific needs.


Incorporating Interdental Aids into Your Oral Hygiene Routine:

Using interdental aids should not replace brushing and regular dental check-ups but rather complement your oral hygiene routine. Here are some tips for incorporating interdental aids effectively:

  1. Establish a Routine:
    Make interdental cleaning a regular part of your oral care routine. Aim for at least once a day, preferably before brushing.
  2. Seek Professional Guidance:
    Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to demonstrate how to properly use interdental aids and recommend specific products based on your needs.
  3. Be Gentle:
    When using interdental aids, remember to be gentle to avoid injuring your gums or teeth. Use a back-and-forth motion and avoid forcing the aid into tight spaces.
  4. Regularly Replace:
    Depending on the type of interdental aid you choose, make sure to replace it as recommended to maintain efficiency and hygiene.


In conclusion, interdental aids play a vital role in maintaining optimal oral health by effectively cleaning hard-to-reach areas between the teeth.

Incorporating these aids into your daily hygiene routine can help prevent dental issues, promote gum health, and enhance overall oral hygiene.

Explore the various options available, consult with your dental professional, and elevate your oral care routine with the help of interdental aids.

Remember, a healthy smile starts with great oral hygiene!

also read:

  1. regular brushing technique modified bass technique.
  2. why to brush twice daily..?
  3. halitosis or mouth breath.?
  4. ultrasonic scaling benefits.?

What are interdental aids?

How to choose right size of interdental brush.& floss

Interdental aids are dental tools or devices used to clean the spaces between teeth, especially in areas where a toothbrush cannot reach effectively.

Why should I use interdental aids?

Why we should use interdental aids

Interdental aids help remove plaque and debris from between teeth, reducing the risk of dental caries, gum disease, and bad breath. They also promote better oral hygiene and maintain healthy gums.

What types of interdental aids are available?

Interdental aids different types

Some popular interdental aids include interdental brushes, dental floss, water flossers, wooden or plastic picks, and rubber tip stimulators.

How often should I use interdental aids?

It is generally recommended to use interdental aids at least once a day, preferably before brushing your teeth, to remove any trapped food particles and plaque.

Are interdental brushes better than dental floss?

How to choose right size of interdental brush.& floss

Both interdental brushes and dental floss are effective in cleaning between teeth. The choice between them depends on individual preference, the spacing between teeth, and the ease of use.

Can interdental brushes replace regular toothbrushes?

No, interdental brushes are designed to complement regular toothbrushes, not replace them. They are used specifically for cleaning between teeth, while toothbrushes clean the tooth surfaces.

Are interdental aids suitable for everyone?

Most individuals can benefit from using interdental aids. However, people with braces, dental implants, or other dental restorations may need specific interdental aids recommended by their dentist or orthodontist.

How do water flossers work, and are they effective?

Do Water flosser work effectively..?

Water flossers use a stream of water to flush out debris between teeth and along the gum line. They can be highly effective and are especially useful for individuals with difficulty using traditional dental floss.

Can interdental aids cause gum damage or bleeding?

Gum bleed / damage by interdental aids

If used correctly, interdental aids should not cause any gum damage or bleeding. However, if you experience bleeding or discomfort, it is recommended to consult your dentist for proper guidance.

How do I choose the right size of interdental brush or dental floss?

How to choose right size of interdental brush.& floss

The size of the interdental brush or dental floss you should use depends on the size of the spaces between your teeth. It is advisable to consult your dentist or hygienist to determine the correct size for you.

Are interdental aids suitable for children?

Children can also benefit from using interdental aids. However, it is essential to choose interdental aids appropriate for their age and seek guidance from a dental professional.

Can I use interdental aids if I have sensitive teeth or gums?

Yes, there are specific interdental aids designed for individuals with sensitive teeth or gums. It is recommended to consult your dentist for recommendations tailored to your needs.

How long should interdental aids be used for optimal results?

The duration of using interdental aids varies from person to person. Consistent and daily use is key to achieving optimal results in terms of oral hygiene and gum health.

Can interdental aids prevent cavities?

Yes, interdental aids play an important role in cleaning hard-to-reach areas, removing plaque and food particles, and thus reducing the risk of cavities.

How to clean and maintain interdental aids?

Most interdental aids can be rinsed with water after use. Brushes and floss should be replaced regularly, as indicated by the manufacturer or dental professional, to maintain effectiveness and hygiene.

Can interdental aids replace regular dental check-ups?

No, regular dental check-ups are crucial for comprehensive oral health. Interdental aids are a supplementary tool that aids in between visits to the dentist.

Are interdental aids covered by dental insurance?

Some dental insurance plans may cover the cost of interdental aids.
It is advisable to review your dental insurance policy or consult with your provider to determine coverage.

Can I use interdental aids with braces or orthodontic appliances?

Yes, maintaining good oral hygiene with interdental aids becomes even more important when you have braces or orthodontic appliances. There are specific interdental aids designed for those with braces

Can interdental aids help with bad breath?

Yes, interdental aids can contribute to reducing bad breath by removing bacteria, food debris, and plaque that may contribute to halitosis.

Are interdental aids difficult to use?

Interdental aids may require some practice initially, but with guidance from your dentist or hygienist, you can easily learn their proper usage techniques.    

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