Saying which interdental brush is best for you, is not something that can be summarised in a single sentence.
Picking the right interdental toothbrush is a little bit more complicated, but if you’re just getting started with interdental brushes, in a rush and you want the best all-round choice, check out this mixed pack from TePe.
There is a slightly longer (but not exhaustive) version of that answer, so if you want to delve a tiny bit deeper then jump to this section that explains the TePe product range — there may be a brush size that is best for you.
In the first section below I explain why I typically recommend TePe brushes as the best for interdental cleaning and include purchase links.
In the second section, I include a comprehensive guide to interdental brushes; what they are and how to use them.
TePe — Our pick for the best interdental brushes
TePe (not teepee as some spell it) is a Swedish company who have been manufacturing oral hygiene products since 1965.
They have a dedication to the products design, their production, their customers and the community like few other brands.
In fact, TePe’s headquarters are still based in Malmo, Sweden where the company began. The products are produced there too, using renewable energy.
Evolving from a tooth stick that founder Henning Eklund designed in 1965, TePe have a much broader range of products from toothbrushes to tongue cleaners but they are perhaps best known for their interdental products, that now puts them as one of the leaders in interdental cleaning.
If TePe does not have the interdental brush suitable for you, then it probably does not exist.
The TePe interdental brush product range
With years of experience in creating products and working with dental professionals, nowadays there is an exceptional range of products on offer to suit the interdental cleaning needs for all of us.
The products often come in a range of colours and these colours correlate to the different sized brushes, to make it simpler for you to know and select the right ones.
Whilst core to the brush is a wire that the bristles connect to and flexes when in the mouth, for safety and a more gentle clean, this wire has a plastic coating.
The brushes normally come supplied with a clear cap that fits over the brush head to protect it if required. This is particularly useful when travelling.
However, the plastic lid can also be used as an extension to the handle thanks to the way in which the products have been designed.
One size does not suit all
Like floss, a particular size and type of interdental brush are better suited to some individuals more than others.
The handle size and softness of the bristles is one thing, but another is the brush size.
The size of the brush is the diameter – in other words, how wide the brush is. Measured in millimetres (mm) brushes range from 0.4 right through to 1.5mm in size.
We all have different sized gaps between our teeth. I might have small gaps, you might have large gaps so you and I would need different sized brushes to clean my interdental spaces, compared to you.
The difference in size may be because of natural spaces (or lack of) between your teeth. Other things that may affect the size of the gap between your teeth include if you have had any teeth removed, or if you have previously had gum disease.
However, many of us will need more than one size as the gaps will vary around our mouth. Just because we have a small gap in between the front teeth does not mean the rear teeth will as well. In fact, normally the space between the back teeth is larger than the front teeth.
To help you find the right size for you, you can purchase an assorted pack (view on Amazon) to find what works for you.
So how do you know you have found the right size?
The TePe brushes should slide between the teeth under gentle pressure, whilst still touching the teeth on both sides. There should be a little bit of resistance as you use the brush. On the other hand, the brush should not be so big that you have to force it through the gap and end up bending the wire.
Importantly, do not be too concerned if your gums bleed the first few days of using them. They are bleeding because you have gum disease and the gums are irritated. With regular use, the bleeding should stop after just 7-10 days.
If you have a hygiene appointment with your dentist or hygienist they can also advise which sizes are best for you as an individual.
TePe interdental brushes – original
The classic TePe interdental brush, this option has a straight brush head and a short handle, and it comes in nine different sizes.
- 0.4mm – Pink
- 0.45mm – Orange
- 0.5mm – Red
- 0.6mm – Blue
- 0.7mm – Yellow
- 0.8mm – Green
- 1.1mm Purple
- 1.3mm – Grey
- 1.5mm – Black
TePe interdental brushes – extra soft
The same sort of design as the original but with extra soft filaments and a range of 6 different sizes.
- 0.45mm – Orange
- 0.5mm – Red
- 0.6mm – Blue
- 0.7mm – Yellow
- 0.8mm – Green
- 1.1mm Purple
Boasting a longer handle, the TePe angle is particularly useful for getting to your back teeth.
You may also find these easier to use if you struggle to grip the regular brushes, because of the longer handle.
The handle allows you to reach with more ease into the back of the mouth and the angled tip makes it easier to position and reach in between the teeth.
These come in six different sizes.
- 0.4mm – Pink
- 0.45mm – Orange
- 0.5mm – Red
- 0.6mm – Blue
- 0.7mm – Yellow
- 0.8mm – Green
You can get a pack that contains all six sizes here on Amazon.
|Tepe Angled Brush Mixed Sample Pack (6 brushes per pack)||36 Reviews||£4.25 £3.72||View on Amazon|
TePe interdental brush accessories
TePe does make a small holder for storage of up to four interdental brushes in your bathroom as well as a travel case capable of holding up to 6 of the original or extra soft brushes.
|Tepe Interdental Brush Micro holder , 1 unit supplied in random colour||149 Reviews||£11.99||View on Amazon|
A complimentary product to interdental brushes, this is like a modern (but safer) toothpick and is designed to be just as effective as regular interdental brushes, but more convenient.
Packaged with a convenient pocket case, the easy to use EasyPicks come in just two sizes.
M/L are turquoise in colour and are suitable for medium to large gaps whilst XS/S are orange and suitable for the narrowest of gaps in the teeth.
Coming in packs of 36, you get 6 strips of 6 TePe EasyPicks.
When you need one simply detach from the strip, use and then dispose of the EasyPick.
A silicone coating to the long and flexible head cleans effectively whilst feeling comfortable on the gums. There is a non-slip grip handle to ensure you don’t lose control when in use.
When it comes to using, you use in the same way you would a regular interdental brush.
The simple yet effective design achieved the RedDot award in 2016, which recognises the high design quality.
|TePe EasyPick Dental Picks for daily oral hygiene, healthy teeth and gums, size XS/S / 1 x 36 picks||696 Reviews||£4.00 £3.69||View on Amazon|
|TePe EasyPick Dental Picks for Daily Oral Hygiene and Healthy teeth and gums / Size M/L / 1 x36...||696 Reviews||£3.62||View on Amazon|
Where to buy interdental brushes?
Whilst I have specifically looked at TePe as a range of interdental brushes so far, they are not the only brand, despite being one of the most widely recognised and one of the best with the quality and range offered.
Other brands include:
You can buy TepPe interdental brushes from many dental practices, Amazon, many good pharmacies such as Lloyds or Boots) and most supermarkets (e.g. Sainsbury’s).
Buyers guide – The ultimate guide to understanding & using interdental brushes
Few of us really like the idea of flossing. It can be awkward, time-consuming and messy.
It is something that we should do every day for the good of our oral health, but many of us do not.
I am not here to preach the reasons why you should, but when you hear the dentist say remember to floss, they are not saying it just for fun. They want you to have a healthy mouth.
Now, there are some great innovative solutions to flossing, including powered flossers and water flossers.
But, there might be an even better solution for some of you.
That solution is ‘Interdental Brushes’.
This is the solution, most dental professionals recommend above any other.
What is an interdental brush?
An interdental brush is a small brush specially designed for cleaning between your teeth, where a regular toothbrush is not able to reach.
It is essentially an interdental toothbrush.
Interdental brushes have small bristled heads that reach deep between the teeth to release and sweep away food debris and bacteria.
Available in a variety of sizes and styles, you need to find the right ones for you.
Why should I use an interdental brush?
Bacteria and food debris left between the teeth causes two problems: tooth decay and gum disease. Toothbrushing alone cannot reach between the teeth and so interdental cleaning is needed.
Failing to use an interdental brush could lead to gum disease and ongoing health problems within your mouth.
Food debris, plaque and other bacteria get trapped in between the teeth and on and along the gumline.
Even with a regular brushing routine, you are not reaching all the areas of your mouth. In fact, failing to clean in between the teeth can leave as much as 40% of your tooth surface uncleaned.
Interdental brushes like those by TePe are specifically designed for the interproximal or interdental area. The interproximal area is the gap that exists between teeth, and the gap is normally occupied by a triangle of gum. This is a hard to access area, where a regular toothbrush and daily brushing does not reach.
By using these types of interdental products, you reduce the chances of becoming a victim of gum disease.
I spoke to dental hygienist Abigail Pearson of Purity Clinic about interdental brushes:
I normally recommend TePe brushes to most of my patients, and the earlier the better. General advice would be to use the brushes everyday alongside normal tooth brushing, but most importantly before bed. Brushing alone only reaches up to 60% of the tooth surface as the toothbrush bristles cannot penetrate interdentally effectively.
Abigail Pearson –www.purityclinic.co.uk – GDC 259413
Interdental brush sizes
Interdental toothbrushes or interspace brushes, whatever you like to call them, are available in a number of different sizes.
The different sizes are so that you can pick and use the right sized brush for the gaps between your teeth.
It is incredibly important that you choose the right size brush for the gaps between your teeth. Failing to do so could potentially do more damage than good.
TePe might be one of the best known brands of interdental brushes, but thankfully there is some standardisation in the industry that allows you to ensure you have the right sized brush, irrespective of which brand you buy.
You need to look out for the ISO size.
The ISO size relates to the smallest hole which the brush can pass through.
- Size O – 0.6mm hole – Pink TePe brushes
- Size 1 – 0.7mm hole – Orange TePe brushes
- Size 2 – 0.9mm hole – Red TePe brushes
- Size 3 – 1.1mm hole – Blue TePe brushes
- Size 4 – 1.3mm hole – Yellow TePe brushes
- Size 5 – 1.6mm hole – Green TePe brushes
- Size 6 – 2.0mm hole – Purple TePe brushes
- Size 7 – 2.6mm hole – Grey TePe brushes
- Size 8 – 3.4mm hole – Black TePe brushes
Something to bear in mind, is that whilst that the wire (central to the interdental brush) can be a different size between different brands, but the overall brush size can be the same. For example. Picksters have an ISO size 0 brush, that has a wire width of 0.32mm whereas the TePe equivalent is 0.4mm. However, the smallest hole either will fit through is 0.6mm.
The following images shows the sizes od Picksters interdental brushes.
What size interdental brush should I use?
Unless you go to a dentist or dental hygienist and have them tell you which size brush you need to use, it will be a little bit of trial and error.
An interdental brush should slide between the teeth under gentle pressure, whilst still touching the teeth on both sides. There should be a little bit of resistance as you use the brush. However, you should not have to force it through the gap, if you do, it’s too big.
Purchasing a mixed pack is a good place to start, as this way you have a variety of sizes to use and test in the different gaps in your mouth.
Once you know which brush fits into which gap, why not print off this pack, and label each gap, so you know for future.
You can then purchase ongoing, just the right sized brushes you need.
How do interdental brushes compare to floss?
When thinking about cleaning in between the teeth, most people think about dental floss, those long reels of what looks like string.
Dental floss is a very good tool for cleaning in between teeth and still very much has a place in a dental care routine.
Interdental brushes and floss are 2 different types of tool that essentially do the same job, but each is better suited to some people more than another.
In fact, some people may need to use floss and interdental brushes.
Interdental brushes have become the more popular tool as they are more convenient and less fiddly. Many are more inclined to ‘floss’ with an interdental brush than string floss because a brush requires less hassle and effort.
String dental floss works best when the teeth are very close together and even the smallest interdental brush does not fit in the gap.
I, for example, have to rely upon and use floss, as the gaps in my teeth are so tight that interdental brushes don’t fit.
Check out our comparison of floss and interdental brushes to learn a little more.
Are interdental brushes any good?
Yes, they really are.
Interdental brushes also come very widely recommended by dental professionals.
Whilst interdental brushes tend to be more expensive than floss they are more complicated, and you require more than one style or size in most cases.
However, reviews by Cochrane Library advised that cleaning between the teeth with interdental brushes (on top of your usual brushing) not only reduces more plaque than toothbrushing alone, but that interdental brushes remove more plaque compared to flossing.
This means that the price can be soon outweighed with the convenience and noticeable quality and ease of use.
For those that wear braces, in particular, these are fantastic.
How to use interdental brushes
The size of gaps or interdental spaces in our mouths differ and it is extremely rare for one size of interdental brush to be suitable for all the gaps in your teeth.
You need to find the right sized brush for you and the gaps in your teeth.
Sizes vary from 0.4 through to 1.5mm. You can buy multi-packs that come with varying sizes included helping you find the right ones for you. Your dentist or hygienist will also be happy to help and advise.
Abigail from Purity Clinic was also kind enough to give some guidance on how to use interdental brushes:
- Ensure you have the right size for the space. You should feel some friction when inserting the brush between the teeth and the gums should slightly blanche white.
- The area that is most important to clean is the triangle part of the gum- in-between the teeth.
- Gently insert the brush horizontally into the space, pushing down slightly on the gum
- Push the brush all the way through, now slightly angling it upwards so not to catch the gum on the inside of your mouth.
- When withdrawing the brush gently pull to one side of the tooth
- Repeat and again when withdrawing the brush pull against the side of the other tooth.
- Do not worry if your gums bleed. Bleeding should resolve with regular interdental cleaning
- It’s important to manually disturb the plaque, so you don’t have to apply toothpaste to the brushes
- If your gums are particularly sore, run the brush under warm water to soften the bristles
- For the back teeth, gently bend the neck of the brush into a right angle for better access and pop the cap onto the end of the brush to make it longer
- If you are struggling to reach around your back teeth because your cheek is in the way, insert the brush from the inside, ie, by your tongue or palate. This will give you more room.
- Use your brushes in front of the mirror until you get the hang of it
The following video gives great visuals for you to understand and follow.
How you use an interdental brush does vary slightly depending on what area of the mouth you are cleaning. The front teeth are easier to clean in between than those at the back of the mouth.
To use an interdental brush you should follow these steps.
Front of the mouth
- Use a straight interdental brush
- Gently insert the appropriately sized brush into the space between the teeth, at gum level. Twist the brush slightly in a clockwise direction to help the brush access and fit into the gap. This can too prolong the life of the brush.
- When inserted, gently move the brush in a backwards and forwards motion, the full length of the brush. Repeat this several times to remove plaque and debris.
Back of the mouth
You can use the same technique for teeth at the back of the mouth, however, their position and the ability to reach inside and to the back of the mouth with regular interdental brushes can be quite difficult.
Using products like the TePe Angle is ideal. The length of the handle and the angled head makes it much easier to reach these areas.
You can insert the brush into the gap between the teeth in the same way you would with teeth at the front of the mouth, but with TePe Angle it is perfectly fine to clean this gap by inserting the tool from both the cheek and tongue side of the mouth.
If you choose to use a regular TePe interdental brush, the thinner brushes (TePe Pink, Orange, Red or Blue) come with a bendy neck, so you can bend the brush by adding pressure with your finger.
With larger sized brushes access and movement between back teeth may be improved if you bend the wire.
You should repeat the interdental cleaning for all spaces between teeth and only use floss to assist in cleaning the tighter gaps and the sides of the teeth that interdental brushes don’t reach or make contact with.
Some top tips to consider and be aware of when using interdental brushes.
- Do not force any brush into the gap
- The brush should glide through with relative ease, but with the feeling and sensation of a snug fit. If it feels too tight or you are having to apply pressure/force, then it is likely too big.
- Wash the brush with water after use
- Like a toothbrush, you should thoroughly rinse off interdental brushes after use.
- The brush has become less snug
- You may notice over time that the brush feels less snug in the space. This is likely a sign that you have reduced any swelling that might have been caused as a reaction to not having previously effectively cleaned between the teeth.
How often should I use one?
You should aim to clean with interdental brushes every day. It need not be morning and night unless you really want to, but the general advice is once a day.
General guidance is to use interdental brushes before you brush your teeth in the evening, in order to remove any food and plaque that has build up during the day.
We’ve looked at this topic in more detail in our how often should you floss article.
Do I still need to floss?
Some see the use of interdental products as an addition to regular flossing, whilst others see it as a replacement to.
The brushes are designed to fit into the interproximal or interdental area. This is the gap that exists between teeth and that is occupied by the gums (as shown in the image above). Floss should then be used for the smaller gap below this area, a space most interdental brushes will not reach, in between the 2 sides of teeth.
Therefore some dental professionals will suggest using both, but using one or the other is better than none at all.
Most find interdental brushes easier to use, but if you can use floss too, you will be the one to benefit.
Do I need to use toothpaste with interdental brushes?
No, this is not really required, but some dentists do advise it.
The way the brushes are designed and the size of the bristles means it is not conducive to using a paste with the brushes.
However, if you are concerned and want to take extra protection for your teeth and gums when undertaking interdental brushing, you could use TePe’s Gingival Gel which contains a chlorhexidine (a disinfectant) or their interdental gel with fluoride (view on Amazon).
How often do interdental brushes need replacing?
Like a toothbrush, an interdental brush will need replacing. In fact, it needs replacing more often.
The general recommendation is that an interdental brush can be reused for about a week or when the bristles become worn, wires buckled or distorted.
You do not need to replace after every use unless they are damaged or worn.
Bamboo interdental brushes
Interdental brushes are sadly not environmentally friendly and cannot even be recycled as part of Colgates oral care recycling programme.
The good news is that progress is being made and it is Picksters that are leading the charge on offering more sustainable options.
These bamboo interdental brushes are made from sustainably sourced materials and are up to 97.4% biodegradable.
It is the handle that is bamboo rather than the traditional plastic. The wire and bristles are made from the same material as there is not yet a more sustainable and clinically effective alternative.
The brushes come supplied in 100% recycled biodegradable packaging.
These bamboo handled interdental brushes are available in ISO sizes, O, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6.
Failing to clean in between the teeth leaves 40% of the tooth surface uncleaned.
Interdental brushes, be those created by TePe, Wisdom, Picksters or another brand are a tool to help you improve your oral health.
The interdental brushes fit between the gaps between teeth, disrupting the plaque, bacteria and debris that exists, that regular toothbrushing alone does not reach.
The brushes are suitable for most people, but not everyone’s mouths are the same and the different brush sizes available allow you to find the right one for your interdental spaces.
A more convenient option for most, the interdental toothbrush makes the process of cleaning between the teeth that little bit more bearable.
Why are my gums are bleeding?
Bleeding gums can be a sign of gum disease (gingivitis). Diseased gums can bleed very easily and regular cleaning will result in healthier gums.
If there is only a small amount of bleeding continue to brush for a few days and the bleeding should reduce.
Should the bleeding continue beyond two weeks, or if the bleeding does not stop shortly after brushing is stopped then seek advice from a dental professional.
See our post about bleeding gums when brushing teeth for more information on this.
Cheapest TePe interdental brushes?
Whilst prices of TePe interdental brushes remain fairly consistent, they are always subject to change, and it is not possible for me to say where you can always get the very cheapest brushes from.
Generally speaking, the major retailers, like Boots and Amazon will have the best prices on these products. Online retailers, in particular, tend to have lower overheads that allow them to offer the products at better prices.
TePe is however the market leaders, so it might be worth considering other brands that offer what are essentially identical products but may be cheaper.
Take a look at:
- Picksters UK (view on Amazon)
- Stoddard (view on Amazon)
- Dentek (view on Amazon)
- Wisdom (view on Amazon)
What’s the smallest interdental brush?
The smallest interdental brush is size 0. This fits through holes 0.6mm wide.
0.4mm is the smallest interdental brush available from TePe. This brush has a pink coloured handle.
Your thoughts & opinions
Are you a fan of interdental brushes?
Do you have any particular advice to offer when it comes to choosing them?
If you have any comments or questions, leave them below and I will respond as soon as possible.