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According to Prof. Denis Bourgeois, dental professionals should instruct patients on interdental brushing from a young age to avoid periodontal and systemic disease later in life. (Image: Curaden)

For young people too, interdental brushing should be a daily habit

By Curaden
August 11, 2020

According to Prof. Denis Bourgeois, dental professionals should instruct patients from a young age to make interdental brushes an integral part of their daily brushing routine. This is important in order to avoid future periodontal and systemic disease. Recently, he was part of a team of researchers who evaluated the efficacy of calibrated interdental brushing for the prevention of periodontal pathogen infection in young adults. The results of the study showed that participants were able to decrease interdental inflammation and re-establish symbiotic microbiota.

For the study, which was conducted at the dental faculty of the University of Lyon in France, real-time polymerase chain reaction methodology was used to identify 19 periodontal bacteria—including Porphyromonas gingivalis, Treponema denticola and Tannerella forsythia—in the interdental biofilm of 25 periodontally healthy participants between the ages of 18 and 35. Although the presence of such periodontal pathogens in the interdental biofilm of young and healthy individuals had already been established, the new study aimed at evaluating the efficacy of daily, calibrated interdental brushing in reducing the number of pathogens in the mouth. Over the course of three months, the number of bacteria associated with periodontal disease decreased drastically, allowing a reversion to symbiosis of the interdental microbiota. Moreover, the percentage of the test sites bleeding on interdental brushing—initially 66%—decreased by 85%.

“Using a normal toothbrush should be inseparably linked to using calibrated interdental brushes”

The interdental space: Crucial but overlooked

“The major explanation for the number of pathogens in the interdental spaces of seemingly healthy young people is that interdental space is an ecological niche where traditional brushing methods fail to disrupt biofilm,” explained Bourgeois, co-author of the study and dean of the University of Lyon’s dental faculty. A pioneer of oral prophylaxis, Bourgeois has conducted invaluable research on interdental biofilm management and interdental brushing techniques, both of which are yet to become commonplace. “Using a normal toothbrush should be inseparably linked to using calibrated interdental brushes. The daily disruption of the interdental microbiota is crucial in order to re-establish and maintain symbiosis of the oral microbiome,” Bourgeois said.

“Interdental prophylaxis is universal,” he continues. “It does not only apply to adults with a history of periodontal or peri-implant disease. For young people too, interdental brushing should be a daily habit. The argument that it is not possible to penetrate narrow, healthy interdental spaces is no longer valid. The newest generation of interdental brushes are small enough to access 99% of the interdental spaces of healthy young adults.

The finest Curaprox interdental brushes are able to access 99% of the interdental spaces of healthy young adults. (Image: Curaden)

Calibration is key

Interdental brushes are the most efficient when the bristles fill out the interdental space completely. For this reason, it is necessary for dental professionals to calibrate their patients’ interdental spaces. “Calibration means determining the correct diameter of interdental brush so that it will come into contact with all of the tissue surfaces of the interdental space where the microbiota are located,” explained Bourgeois. “For our study, we used the colorimetric probe to determine the necessary diameter. The colorimetric probe is fundamental, compulsory. It is like a tuning fork for interdental prophylaxis.”

The role of dental professionals

According to Bourgeois, dental professionals should provide patients with the knowledge, tools and techniques they need in order to disrupt their interdental microbiomes on a daily basis. “Starting at the top, it is the responsibility of dental faculties to teach individual prophylaxis to students. Dental professionals should practise what they preach and, in turn, teach patients. Learning about the right brushing techniques and tools is a job for dental professionals. Then, it is their responsibility to pass this knowledge on to their patients and guarantee them an optimal quality of life. Above all, do not leave patients ignorant in the face of the marketing and commercial pressure that they encounter on a daily basis.”

Bourgeois concluded: “If every dental professional were to instruct patients about interdental brushing from adolescence, we would be able to prevent dental and periodontal complications caused by microbiota in adulthood. The positive impact this would have on patients’ systemic health and well-being would be an added bonus.”

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