Updated: Jul 30
The American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth daily with an interdental cleaner (like floss). Cleaning between your teeth helps prevent cavities and gum disease. Cleaning between your teeth helps remove a sticky film called plaque. Plaque contains bacteria that feeds on leftover food or sugar in your mouth. The bacteria then releases an acid that eats away at the outer shell of your teeth and cause cavities.
Plaque that is not removed by brushing and cleaning between your teeth can harden into a rough substance called tartar (or calculus). Tartar collects along your gum line and can lead to gum disease. Once tartar forms, only a professional cleaning can remove it.
What Should I Use to Clean Between My Teeth?
If there’s something stuck between your teeth that you want to remove immediately, it can be tempting to use whatever you have handy to clean it out. Most people have used 'unusual items' such as fingernails, folded paper, cutlery, safety pins and even strands of hair to remove food stuck between their teeth. In addition to being less effective than traditional flossing tools, these items can be harmful and cause pain afterwards.
Instead, stick to using tools designed for cleaning between teeth like dental picks, string floss, tiny brushes that reach between the teeth and water floss. Dental picks might help you get to hard-to-reach places. Water floss might be a good option if you have trouble flossing by hand or have dental work that makes flossing difficult, like braces or fixed bridges. You can try different options until you find the one that works best for you.
The American Dental Association has a guide that shows the proper way to floss your teeth: https://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/f/Flossing%20Steps
Brian Y. Kuo DDS FAGD
🦷 Schedule a dental cleaning/prophylaxis to get rid of tartar