If flossing your teeth every night is a chore you’d rather avoid, you’re not alone. Delta Dental reports that fewer than half of Americans floss that often, and 20% do not floss at all. Among the excuses: It’s too difficult, and it hurts.
But brushing your teeth twice a day, as recommended, isn’t enough. Your toothbrush can’t reach all the spaces between the teeth that harbor plaque and bacteria. Plaque that remains on the teeth is what causes tooth decay and periodontal disease.
Flossing correctly once a day helps disrupt the process that allows plaque to form, but the resistance to flossing is hard to overcome. Because removing plaque is so essential to the health of your teeth, and to your overall wellness, we offer our patients an additional option: Tepe interdental brushes.
These small interdental brushes are specially designed to clear away plaque between your teeth and gums. There are twelve sizes, coded by color, with bristles measured in millimeters to slide into the varied spaces and contours around each tooth.
An NIH study, among others, showed interdental brushes can be more effective than floss at removing plaque from some places, and other studies have found that patients are more willing to use them as compared to flossing because they are easier to use. That’s certainly a recommendation.
Tepe interdental brushes also offer several functional advantages over floss:
- They’re easier for people with limited hand flexibility to manipulate – they’re used one-handed, for one thing.
- They can clean more effectively around implants, bridges and orthodontic braces.
- Because they’re flexible, they’re able to clean some areas that flossing cannot. But floss, likewise, can work in some places brushes can’t reach.
- The larger-size brushes are perfect for cleaning between teeth with wide gaps.
- They can be reused until the bristles lose their shape, typically after one week.
- Some patients report that cleaning with these brushes feels a bit like a gum massage.
When we first introduce Tepe brushes, we demonstrate them for you in our office and determine the correct sizes and shapes for each tooth in your mouth. Then we give you a chart to take home that shows which brushes you should use for each area. You may need two sizes to clean all your teeth.
Here are some general tips for using Tepe brushes:
- Gently insert the brush into the gap between your teeth at the gum line and move it back and forth a few times, ensuring you thoroughly clean the gum area.
- Don’t force a brush into any space it won’t fit.
- If necessary, you can contour the brush by gently bending the wire.
- Work in a pattern around your mouth so you don’t miss any spaces (following the chart we give you). Change brush sizes as you need to.
- Rinse the brushes after every use and let them air dry before recapping.
- Replace brushes when the bristles become too flat or begin falling out or if a wire breaks.
While Tepe brushes are very effective at removing bacterial plaque from your teeth, we don’t suggest they totally replace flossing. Ideally and for maximum plaque removal, both should be used in combination. But if you’re one of those people who resist flossing, TePe brushes may be a health-giving alternative.