A little while back, I wrote a blog post on oral offenders. You know, those people that make your face fall off when they talk to you. I recently had the pleasure of sitting next to an oral offender on the train. Every time she nodded off, she started to mouth breathe, polluting the air with unsavoury bacterial characters from her cesspit of a mouth.
I have thoroughly enjoyed lovingly sharing with you the wonderments of the microbial monstrosities that reside in our mouths, but have not gone into much detail about how to keep the buggers in check. Until now.
Today, I removed this stinking, interdental slurry from a patient with relatively good oral hygiene. The patient accessed all areas decently with their toothbrush. However, they were a bit lackadaisical when it came to cleaning between the teeth and this is what I found:
But then a little while later, I saw another patient with horrendous toothbrushing skills and they had shit all over the place. However, their smelly slurry looked like this:
Not a great deal of difference. Perhaps that’s because the interdental spaces make up 40% of the total surface area of the teeth, so no matter how appalling or brilliant you are with a toothbrush, interdental slurry will form in similar amounts. Ergo, it doesn’t matter if you use an electric toothbrush that vibrates your teeth into an alternate universe, you need to get in between those teggers too, otherwise you run the risk of offending. Orally.
What can you use to clean between the teeth?
Tape versus floss:
Tape is a lot thinner and flatter so can feel more comfortable than floss. It tends to snag and tear less too. Win.
When you use floss/tape to clean between the teeth, you should NOT see-saw backwards and forwards as this is effectively sawing into the gum. Once you click past the contact point of the teeth, glide it gently under the gum and then slide it up and down the surface of the tooth.
Flossing/taping around back teeth can be tricky. Most of the time you end up gagging and dribbling everywhere because your mouth is so full of fingers, you’re bereft of the ability to a.) breathe and 2.) swallow.
Something to help with this problem is a floss pick, or a floss holder.
Another useful aid is the interdental brush. Particularly if you have bridgework or fixed braces. Tepe is the leading brand and are generally pretty good. You need the right size for it to be effective – a nice snug fit, without having to use too much bicep to push it through. I have seen someone fully pierce their gum with a Tepe brush so gently does it.
For accessing between back teeth with an interdental brush, you can buy long handled versions which can make it a lot easier.
If you’re unsure of any of this, just visit your hygienist. Simples. They’ll be more than happy to show you the error of your ways.
But for now, remember my motto to avoid being an oral offender…
If you’re always in a hurry, you’ll forget to clean that slurry. You dirty bastard.