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Debating the use of interdental cleaning products: Some key questions

Jan 21, 2021 | Consumer Product | Future Market Insights

Oral health has been a growing concern in developed and developing countries alike. In fact, the general oral health of a country’s population is often a key indicator of the level of progress and development in that country. This is since oral health falls at the interface between essential and luxury indicators of a person’s lifestyle. As a result, even in the evolutionary process of human societies, oral healthcare came second only to essential medical procedures such as treatments for blood loss prevention, fractures and potentially fatal infections. To validate this point further, consider than humans are one of the few known species in the animal kingdom that have a substantially longer average lifespan than their teeth.

What are interdental cleaning products meant for?

Interdental cleaning is meant to help get rid of plaque and any kind of particulate matter that is stuck between a person’s the teeth. They thus help in preventing formation and multiplication of bacteria. Such bacteria can begin eating away at a person’s tooth if left uncleansed and can lead to cavities; in extreme cases, such bacteria may also reach the root of the teeth and begin attacking a person’s gums. Thus, together with toothbrushes and tongue cleaners, interdental cleaning product form an integral part of any person’s comprehensive oral hygiene kit.

How are interdental cleaning products different from toothbrushes?

An interdental cleaning product differs from a toothbrush in that it is meant to help remove bacteria, plaque and particulate matter from the gap in between two teeth. In contrast, a toothbrush helps get rid of bacteria, plaque and particulate matter from the surface of teeth (both on the outside and on the inside); additionally, a toothbrush also helps in keeping the teeth shinny and avoids staining in the mouth. Thus, while a toothbrush helps maintain the cosmetic appearance of teeth and plays a part in reducing the harmful effects of foreign particles in the mouth, interdental cleaning products are more crucial for tooth health as they reach places where toothbrushes cannot.

What are the types of interdental cleaning products?

Several types of interdental cleaning products are today available in supermarkets, hypermarkets, local mom and pop stores, through online mediums and in pharmacies. Some prominent interdental cleaning products include toothpicks, dental floss, dental tapes and interdental brushes. All these different types of interdental care products carry out almost the exact same functions, but differ slightly in specifications such as size, shape, handling and the recommended duration of use. These products are largely produced by major brands operating in the healthcare industry, and more specifically the oral healthcare industry. This grants the products a certain degree of reliability and consistency.

Are interdental cleaning products safe to use?

The ability of big pharmaceutical and healthcare brands to ensure the reliability and consistency of interdental cleaning products goes a long way in making these products safe for use. This is since the soft tissues in the mouth are very sensitive in nature and as such are prone to infections and other ailments; this is mainly since these tissues reside under the protective oral cavity. With big brands in the picture, users of interdental cleaning products are no longer required to worry about aspects such as hygiene and the risk of infections due to germs being carried to their mouths from the production, packaging or storage process as this would expose the errant companies to huge reputational risks and litigations.

However, some caveats still remain about the safe usage of interdental cleaning products. The shape of one’s mouth is often unique; for example, there are no standard measurement proportions for jawlines and teeth structures. Thus, it common for some people to have teeth spaced out from each other or tightly packed; neither of these is a major oral health issue. However, such teeth structuring does play a part where choosing an accurate interdental cleaning product is concerned. To give a very basic example, a person with their teeth spaced out would be better served with a toothpick as compared to a person whose teeth are tightly packed together; in the latter case, a toothpick may actually be detrimental to his or her oral health and he/she should instead opt for something like a dental floss or a dental tape. Given these factors, a family dentist is best placed to advise a person on the type of interdental cleaning products that is best suited for a person’s oral hygiene requirements.

Another major caveat with regard to safety of interdental cleaning products is that most interdental cleaning products are specifically meant for use by adults. As a result, most of these products should not be used on children and neither should children be taught to use them on their own until they reach their early teenage. Furthermore, considering that several interdental cleaning products pose a choking hazard to infants and young children, these products should also be kept out of the reach of children.

How frequently should one use interdental cleaning products?

It is advisable that interdental cleaning products be used once a day, immediately after brushing one’s teeth. However, certain types of interdental cleaning products such as toothpicks and thick dental flosses may damage the teeth structure due to overuse; thus, their use should be limited to times when it is known that a food particle is stuck in between teeth. Having said this, no similar concern exists for dental tapes and interdental brushes.

Who needs interdental cleaning products the most?

While elderly populations are more prone to tooth decay due to oral bacteria, this is not a problem that is endemic to this demographic alone. Furthermore, other people who suffer from low immunity due to lifestyle causes or health conditions, or from low calcium levels in the body, are also more prone to tooth decay. Thus, while elderly people should make it a point to regularly use interdental cleaning products in their daily oral care routine, other adults should not ignore it either.


Use of interdental cleaning products is something that no one should ignore as it is vital for overall oral health. This oral health is not only essential for appearance and confidence, but also for overall wellbeing. Thus, interdental cleaning products in combination with other oral care products can go a long way in elongating the life of one’s teeth.