In this article I provide recommendations for the best interdental brushes, based on my own hands-on testing and experience as a dentist.
Interdental brushes are small brushes used to clean between the teeth. They are the most effective method of interdental cleaning.
Although they are made by a number of different brands, TePe brushes are almost synonymous with these cleaning aids.
However, there are options from competing brands, with more and more options becoming available.
Saying which interdental brush is best for you is not something that can be summarised in a single sentence.
But in the sections below I have tried to include both simplified and detailed recommendations.
In the first section below I explain why I recommend the best interdental brushes depending on your circumstances.
In the second section, I include a comprehensive guide to interdental brushes; what they are and how to use them.
Our main recommendations at a glance
Please note that if you are not opting for a mixed size pack, you may need to see the advice below about choosing the right size.
Best overall: TePe (Amazon, Ebay) ~ 53p each
TePe are the most widely known and easily available. They come in a wide range of sizes and different handle lengths, and have made some changes to reduce the environmental impact of their range.
Cheaper alternative: ICON Optim (Amazon, Ebay) ~ 32p each
ICON (Stoddard) brushes are long lasting and strong, especially in the smallest sizes. They come in a wide range of sizes, and every brush has a cover. The brushes themselves are great, and they are cheaper than TePe, but at present there are no good aspects to these brushes when it comes to the environment.
Sunstar GUM Soft Picks Advanced are a silicone based interdental brush with a useful curved design. Comes in a range of sizes and is strong enough to survive multiple uses. They come in large packs, but at present there are no eco-friendly credentials to the brushes.
Hydrophil Bamboo Interdental brushes are a good option for people wanting to reduce the environmental impact of their dental care. They come with a bamboo handle and are water and carbon neutral.
Curaprox Prime Interdental brushes are a refill option in a wide range of sizes. The reuseable handles come in small or long options with plastic or metal available.
In this post
How we chose
Our team is made up of dental professionals and experienced product testers. We specialise in oral health and abide by a strong code of ethics.
Together, we ensure our recommendations include only the very best choices. We regularly review our recommendations based on newly released products and clinical evidence.
I have tried to choose brushes that have some amount of data to support any specific claims they make or independent safety testing.
Recommendations also take into account my own personal testing, and consider feedback from consumers and industry leaders.
Other criteria include how environmentally friendly the brush or brand is. The recommendations aim to balance between the cost of the brushes and the environmental impact.
Notes and reviews from Dr. Wheeler’s testing
This section sums up my personal thoughts and experiences testing a number of different interdental brushes.
Standard interdental brushes
Brands I have personally tested:
- TePe Interdental brushes. The straight brushes come in 9 sizes, with 6 options for extra soft bristles. The angled brushes come in 6 different sizes.
- Dentek On-The-Go 3-in-1 Interdental cleaners. These have a hard plastic pick, an interdental brush, and a floss harp all in one. The brush has a minty flavouring. The pack of 12 comes in a plastic bag
- Icon Interdental brushes. These are available in packs of 8 or 25, each with their on cap. There are 8 sizes available.
- Oral Prevent Interdental brushes. These come in 9 sizes, and have a plastic handle in a large “smart grip” shape. The pack of 6 comes in a plastic bag, with one cap between all the brushes.
- Piksters Interdental brushes. These are available in 11 different sizes. They have a narrow straight plastic handle, and come in a plastic box of 40, each with individual caps, and with one extension handle.
- Razoko Interdental brush. These come in two boxes of 72. There are 4 sizes, and every brush comes with its own cap.
- Wisdom re:new interdental brushes. These come in a paper box of 30 brushes, made using recycled plastic for the handle and bio-based plastic (castor oil) filaments
I like TePe, I find them comfortable enough to use, but I do find the smaller sizes are prone to bending. The brand is synonymous with interdental brushes, and generally there is nothing wrong with them — they have even made changes to ensure more environmentally friendly practices.
However, there are many other options available, and they are often more affordable too. That’s why I have tested a number of different brands to be able to make recommendations.
That is where the ICON brushes step up — they are much stronger, last longer, and are cheaper to buy too. Sadly they aren’t easy to find outside of the UK, and also don’t have any clear environmentally friendly policies.
I like the Piksters interdental brushes. They have a wide range of sizes, and the brand also offers a range of handle extenders too. I’m a big fan of the fact that they come in large boxes of 40, which keeps packaging to a minimum (as long as you know which size you need!). The smallest size is particularly good for small gaps, and is smaller than the TePe equivalent.
Wisdom is a british brand offering a number of options for interdental brushes. I tested the re:new brushes as a more environmentally friendly option. These are a good alternative to bamboo brushes if you are in the UK, but are more difficult to get hold of elsewhere. There is also only a small range of sizes: 0.5mm, 0.6mm, 0.8mm. They are good quality brushes, and comfortable to use, so there is no reason why you couldn’t choose these over the other options so long as the size works for you. They also come in larger pack sizes (30) and have no covers, meaning there is no unnecessary waste.
I tested Razoko, an unknown brand which frequently popped up on an online retailer. They are a budget option, made in China, and I do not recommend them. The four sizes offered don’t have much variation. I also found them uncomfortable to use and they buckled very easily.
Silicone based interdental brushes
Brands I have personally tested:
- Sunstar GUM Soft Picks Advanced. These come in three available sizes, and have a curved shape with a rubber grip on the handles. They come in packs of 30 with a travel case included.
- Sunstar GUM Soft Picks Original. These come in three sizes, as a pack of 80 sticks and with a travel case. These are a straight version of the advanced brushes.
- TePe EasyPicks. These come in three sizes, as a pack of 36 and with a travel case. They are straight shaped with rubber on the grip area too.
- Wisdom Clean Between Brushes. These come in three sizes as a pack of 20, but with no travel case. Straight shaped.
- Wisdom Clean Between Pro. These have three available sizes, and have a curved shape with rubber grip on the handles. They come in packs of 30 with a travel case included.
My personal favourites for silicone brushes by far are the Sunstar GUM Soft Picks Advanced. The curve on them made them easier to use, whilst the choice of sizes is also good. The rubber on the grip also made them easier to hold, which is why I picked these over the original version. The Wisdom Clean Between Pro is pretty much identical in style and quality.
The Wisdom Clean Between brushes are almost identical to the GUM Original brushes, with colour being the only difference. The quality is similar, and both can be reused. Wisdom is recommended where GUM branded products are more difficult to find and where the cost is excessive.
TePe Easypicks are one of the most widely known versions of these brushes but didn’t make it to the top of my list because I find the rubber bristles wear much more quickly than the other brands available. There is no reason why you can’t reuse rubber based interdental brushes, but this isn’t even an option with TePe due to the quality.
Angled, long handle, and replaceable handle interdental brushes
Brands I have tested:
- Curaprox Prime interdental brushes
- Bamboo Piksters angled interdental brush
- TePe Angle interdental brush
- Wisdom interProximal brushes
The TePe angled brushes use the same sizing and bristles as their regular brushes, the only difference is the long handle and that the bristles are at an angle to the handle. There are fewer sizes offered compared to their regular range. Generally there is nothing wrong with these brushes, but in my opinion there are better options available.
The Bamboo Piksters angled brushes are a reasonable quality. Although the handles are made of bamboo and sound more environmentally friendly than a plastic option, there is conflicting evidence about this. I discuss issues with bamboo in my articles on the bamboo electric toothbrushes and the most eco-friendly manual toothbrushes. Essentially though, don’t feel that these are automatically better than the TePe Angle brushes, just because they are made of bamboo.
I strongly recommend the use of reusable handle and replaceable brush options. They produce less waste as only small parts of the brush need to be replaced. Another advantage is that it takes up less space if multiple sizes are needed (as is the case for most people) — with one handle you can use a number of different sizes.
In terms of quality, Curaprox is so far the best I have come across. They come in better pack sizes than other options at present and also have a very wide range of sizes available.
A closer look at our recommended products
In the sections below I have included some extra details about the products that I have found to be good in my testing.
I have also included buying links. Often I have linked to a pack with mixed sizes, but most retailers do offer packs for individual sizes too.
Note that different size packets may be available and there may be some small regional differences.
The images included are for reference only. They do not show precisely what is included from the links I have used, so please check the product description before purchasing.
Best interdental brushes
TePe is the market leader with interdental brushes. They are made in Sweden and shipped around the world. TePe offers a range of traditional, straight handled brushes. They also offer long handled, angled brushes.
The straight brushes come in 9 sizes, with 6 options for extra soft bristles. The angled brushes come in 6 different sizes.
These can be bought in a plastic bag of 8 short brushes or a plastic container of 6 long handled brushes. Sometimes you will find refill bags of 25 brushes.
The handles are made from bio-based plastic, a more environmentally friendly alternative to traditional petroleum based plastics. The bristles are made from nylon and are arranged in a straight pattern. The wire core is coated in plastic.
These are standard brushes, which will last up to a week if used correctly. But the smaller sizes are prone to bending with use so can often only be used a couple of times.
They have made it to our favourites list because of the wide availability and range of sizes, as well as being reasonably well made. The company is also taking steps to make the product more environmentally friendly.
Best cheap interdental brushes
ICON Optim (Stoddard)
British made ICON brushes are difficult to get hold of, but they are a very good product.
The brushes come in multipacks of 8 or 25, and in a range of 9 sizes. They only offer a short handled, straight brush.
The handles and caps are made of hard plastic (which is not specified by the manufacturer). The cap doubles up as a handle extension.
What makes these brushes stand out is the strong metal wire, made of stainless steel wire and coated in plastic. These brushes are much more difficult to bend than other brands, and are especially strong in the smaller sizes.
The nylon bristles are arranged in a straight design. Helpfully, the website lists the wire diameter and nylon diameter for the different sizes – information which isn’t always widely available. They also report having an antibacterial agent on the bristles to prevent bacterial growth on them, but don’t say what this is!
These brushes have made it to my favourites because they are longer lasting and more affordable than other, more widely known, brands. I found them to last well up to 6 days use, but after this looked too worn to use again. It’s just a shame there is no effort from the company (at present) to create a product with less environmental impact.
Best silicone based interdental brushes
Sunstar GUM Soft Picks Advanced
These are silicone based interdental brushes. They are available in three different sizes: small, medium, and large. They are metal and latex free.
These come in a pack of 30 with a clear plastic travel case capable of holding 12 brushes. The packaging is made from cardboard and clear plastic, made from 80% recycled materials.
The brushes themselves are curved to make it easier to reach back teeth. The handles are thin plastic with a rubber grip. The cleaning tips are tapered. It is difficult to measure the size exactly, but I measured them to be approximately:
- Small: 2mm to 0.8mm. Bristle width (widest point) 2.75mm
- Medium: 2mm to 1mm. Bristle width (widest point) 3.1mm
- Large: 2mm to 1.1mm. Bristle width (widest point) 4.5mm
I found these to be relatively strong, enough to be able to rinse and reuse several times. The bristles didn’t show any damage after two to three days use.
GUM also have other products available, including conventional interdental brushes and budget options for the silicone interdental brushes.
Best bamboo interdental brushes
Hydrophil Bamboo Interdental Brushes
The bamboo interdental brushes from Hydrophil have a short straight and slightly tapered handle. They are quite thin, which may be difficult for some people to grip, but which are easy to rotate.
The brushes are available in four sizes, which correspond to ISO sizes 0-4. They are available as a pack of six, and come in a paper bag inside a kraft style cardboard box.
As a company, their focus is on water consumption, and this product is water neutral. 10% of their profits go directly to the charity Viva con Agua de Sankt Pauli.
Their products are self-certified vegan and not tested on animals.
Their disposal advice: “After use, the HYDROPHIL Interdental Brushes are disposed of in the residual waste. Unfortunately, for reasons of hygiene, it is not yet possible to dispose of the bamboo handle as organic waste.” They don’t give any explanation for this, but so long as the wire and bristles are removed, the handle is compostable with garden waste or on a home composting pile.
I have tested these interdental brushes. The straight part of the handle is smooth, whilst the tapered end is slightly rougher (which can cause mild irritation to the lips, something I have found with almost all bamboo products, and which isn’t a long term problem as it usually stops after a few days).
I found that the smaller sizes have a shorter length of wire – only 1cm for the size 0, which is too short to effectively clean between the back teeth. The larger sizes have a longer wire.
The wire is strong and didn’t buckle under normal usage, and was also firmly held into the bamboo. None of the wires I tested came out when I pulled on them.
Best reusable handle interdental brush
Curaprox Prime with interdental brush refill system
Curaprox Prime has an “interdental brush refill system”. With these brushes, you replace only the wire and bristle part, keeping the same handle.
The handle options include plastic or metal.
Each new wire and bristle part has just a small amount of plastic on it, so there is much less waste overall. All the refills fit all of the handles.
There is the option for a short handle which has a unique “o” design, or a longer handle that allows the bristles to be angled at the end.
The brushes themselves are good quality, and last well up to 4 or 5 days. The come in a wide range of sizes, each of which you can buy individual refills for.
Packaging wise, the original sets and the refills come in recyclable card and clear plastic packaging.
Interdental brushes buyer’s guide
Cleaning between the teeth is just as important as toothbrushing.
Cleaning between the teeth, however you do it, aims to remove the bacteria and food debris that builds up during the day, and which ultimately leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
Few of us really like the idea of flossing. It can be awkward, time-consuming and messy.
Interdental brushes are an alternative to flossing. In fact, they are more effective than flossing, and most people say they are easier to use too.
In the following guide, I will explain in detail what to know if you are planning to buy and use them. I will also answer questions I commonly encounter as a dentist.
If there is anything further you would like to know, please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.
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.
They are made up of 3 parts:
- Handle – made of plastic, bamboo, or other hard material
- Metal wire – with or without plastic coating
- Bristles – made of nylon or other flexible plastic
Interdental brushes are available in a variety of sizes and styles, you will find the right ones for you.
Are interdental brushes any good?
Yes, they really are.
There is plenty of evidence to support interdental brushes as the most effective form of interdental cleaning:
- Ng and Lim
- Graziani et al
- Sälzer et al
- European Federation of Periodontology 2020 Guidelines
Interdental brushes also come very widely recommended by dental professionals.
What are the benefits of cleaning between the teeth?
Interdental cleaning has direct benefits for your oral health, and indirectly has positive effects on general health too.
The interproximal area is the gap that exists between teeth, and the gap is normally filled by a triangle of gum. This is a hard to access area, where a regular toothbrush and daily brushing does not reach.
Using interdental cleaners between the teeth helps reaches the 40% of tooth surface missed when cleaning with a toothbrush.
Cleaning between the teeth removes food debris and plaque, the direct causes for both tooth decay and gum disease.
Removing plaque build up is important to keep your mouth clean, and interdental cleaning removes more plaque than only using a brush.
- stops your gums bleeding.
- prevents gum disease.
- slows down advanced gum disease.
- prevents tooth decay.
Interdental cleaning is also known to prevent tooth loss. Studies show that people who use interdental cleaning aids have more natural teeth than those who rely on brushing alone.
Bad breath, or halitosis, is also caused by poor oral hygiene and untreated gum disease.
Interdental cleaning prevents bad breath by:
- Removing plaque and food debris which cause bad smells in the mouth.
- Removing the food for the bacteria which release compounds that cause bad breath.
- Managing the gum disease and dental decay that contribute bad breath.
But it’s not just good for your mouth, flossing also has surprising benefits for your overall health, such as helping to manage blood glucose levels for people living with diabetes.
Pros and cons of interdental brushes
We know interdental cleaning is important, but what are the pros and cons of interdental brushes specifically?
- Most effective option for removing plaque from in between the teeth.
- Most effective option for reducing gum inflammation.
- Travel friendly – Compact packaging and can be completed anywhere. Whilst a mirror and a bathroom might be handy, it is not essential to allow you to to use interdental brushes.
- Wide variety of sizes – something for different size spaces.
- Availability – Easy to source from grocery stores and pharmacies.
- Quick and easy to do – Relatively speaking, it is not the most difficult task to complete and can be learnt quickly.
- Affordability – not as cheap as floss, but can be bought relatively cheaply. And one brush can last a week.
- Easy to reach the back teeth – handles and bending tips help with access to back teeth.
- Can be used with one hand.
- Handles make this a good option for limited dexterity.
- No need to put hands in mouth.
- Good option for large gaps, e.g. where teeth are missing.
- Good option for braces – can clean around the brackets and in between the teeth.
- Good for cleaning around dental appliances e.g. implants and bridges.
- Smaller silicone based brushes can be used in smaller gaps.
- Option for reuseable handles and replaceable bristle parts minimise waste produced.
- Disposable plastic handles – thrown away after only a few uses.
- Different sized brushes needed for different sized gaps in the teeth – Not a one size fits all approach.
- Different colour schemes and sizes between brands available can be confusing.
- More expensive than floss.
- Can irritate gums if used aggressively and incorrectly.
- Bacteria build up on bristles between use – Whilst they can be rinsed off and reused for about a week, bacteria can build up on the bristles.
- Not suitable for very crowded teeth.
Types of interdental brushes
The basic structure of interdental brushes remains the same. The biggest differences are the materials used and length of the handles.
In the sections below I have listed examples of each type of interdental brush and linked to them on the manufacturer’s website.
Availability of these in different countries will vary. There are also many own brand options available in local shops.
Regular interdental brushes
These are the type that have a plastic handle with the wire and bristle brush part. They are the most common type of interdental brush and are seen pretty much anywhere you can buy a toothbrush (although some brands may only be available online).
Options available include:
- TePe (bio-based plastic handle)
- Dentek Easy Brush (regular and soft bristled options available)
- Wisdom re:new interdental brushes (recycled plastic)
- Wisdom interdental brushes
- Wisdom pro flex interdental brushes
- Paro 3star Interdental Brush system
- Paro Flexi Grip
- Oral Prevent Interdental Brushes (bio-based plastic) available in two different grip styles – “smart grip” and “classic”
- Tandex Flexi (regular and an extra soft option is also available)
- Dental Pro I-Shaped Interdental Brush
- ICON Interdental Brushes
- GUM® Proxabrush Go-Betweens
- Oral B Interdental Brushes
Interdental brushes with wooden handles
Instead of plastic handles, some makers use wood as the handle for their interdental brushes. This is seen as more environmentally friendly than the traditional plastic options.
We discuss the environmental impact of interdental cleaning methods in our article on the best sustainable interdental cleaning options, but to summarise, these may be a better option if you have composting facilities.
Brands making wood handled interdental brushes include (not all options available in all countries):
- Tandex Woodi
- Hydrophil Interdental Brushes
- Bamboo Piksters
- The Humble Co Interdental Bamboo Brush (see note below)
- Brushd Bamboo Interdental Brush
- Woobamboo Bamboo Interdental Brushes
- Dentek Birch Wood Interdental Brushes
A message about Humble Co Bamboo Interdental Brushes:
For some time, these were market leaders and one of my best picks for bamboo interdental brushes, but they have been removed from our recommendations.
Humble Co do change their products from time to time (like all companies!)
I am aware that the Humble Co Bamboo Interdental Brushes have had a significant change. The sizing is still labelled in ISO sizes, however the actual design has changed. The ISO size is the thickness of the wire core, which should be the same.
But with the new brushes, the bristles appear to be longer, and have a tapered design. This means they may no longer fit in the gaps that they used to.
When ordering new brushes to update our content, the old style was sent. My comments above are based on reports from people who have been sent the new ones, and from images I have seen online.
Humble themselves have not released any information. Even when I contacted Humble Co directly, their customer service weren’t aware of the changes and weren’t able to direct me to where the newer style can be bought.
For now, it seems it is just a lucky dip whilst stock changes. Although the old product was highly recommended, these interdental brushes are now removed from our best picks due to their customer service and not being able to test the new sizes
Long handle interdental brushes
Long handled, or angled interdental brushes, are now available. They will help reach the back teeth if you struggle with a traditional interdental brush. With these brushes, the wire and bristle portion is at an angle to the handle, so there is no need to bend the wire to fit between the back teeth.
You will likely still need straight interdental brushes in addition to these, because it can be difficult to clean the front teeth with an angled interdental brush.
Some options come pre-made and are disposed of as the brush part becomes worn. Other options have detachable heads and reusable handles, which is a better option for reducing the amount of waste you produce!
Long handled interdental brushes available include:
- Curaprox Prime – plastic or aluminium options, single or double ended available
- Paro Slider
- TePe Angle – plastic
- Tandex FlexiMax
- Tandex Proxi – metal
- Dental Pro L-Shaped Interdental Brush
- GUM Proxabrush Angle Cleaner
- GUM Proxabrush Permanent Handle
- EZ Handle Original – plastic
- Interprox Plus Interdental Brush – plastic
- Wisdom interProximal brushes – plastic
Replaceable brush and reusable handle
This list includes some of the long handled interdental brushes mentioned above. But it also includes some options for short handles with detachable interdental brush heads.
The benefit of such a brush is that you should produce less waste overall.
With these brushes, you buy packs of refills and keep the handles.
The handle will fit all the different width brushes offered by the brand, but you cannot use a different brand brush head with a handle as they each have different locking mechanisms to keep the brush part in place whilst cleaning.
Examples of reusable handle interdental brushes include:
- Wisdom interProximal brushes – long plastic handle
- Curaprox Prime – plastic or aluminium options, single or double ended available
- Wingbrush – long plastic handle
- Paro Slider – long plastic handle
- Paro Isola F – long plastic handle, a double ended option is also available
- Tandex Proxi – long metal handle
- GUM Proxabrush Permanent Handle – long plastic handle
- EZ Tote Handle – short plastic handle
- EZ Handle Original – long plastic handle
Silicone based interdental brushes
They are all-plastic brushes, and are sometimes also called toothpicks rather than interdental brushes.
They have a tapered plastic tip with rubber bristles.
There is no metal wire, and the “brush” part is shaped from soft plastic.
These are often more comfortable to use, and are especially good for small gaps.
A recent study has shown these to be as effective as regular interdental brushes when it comes to removing plaque and reducing bleeding. A 2022 study focussed on only patients who have more advanced gum disease (periodontitis) and found both interdental brushes and the rubber based interdental brushes to be better than toothbrushing alone or toothbrushing and flossing.
They are also very affordable options and can bought in large multipacks.
As a newer product, there are limited options available. Brands making these types of brushes include:
- TePe – EasyPick
- Wisdom – Clean Between Regular and Pro
- Dentek – Ultimate Comfort Picks
- GUM Soft-Picks – Comfort Flex, Advanced and Original
In some cases, interdental brushes are available without a handle. There is less waste produced with these. However, they can be difficult to handle, depending on your manual dexterity. Examples include:
Other types of interdental brush
The Paro Brush stick is similar to a silicone interdental cleaner. It has a thin plastic handle with a “velvety flocking” to clean between the teeth.
Another device available to help is the Power Pikster. This is not a brush, but is a handle which has a number of different interdental brush fittings. The vibrating handle is designed to make cleaning easier and more effective.
Other interdental cleaning options — water flossers, dental floss etc.
Interdental brushes are the gold standard for cleaning between the teeth, with lots of evidence to show that they are the most effective option for plaque removal.
Floss is the most widely known interdental cleaning aid. It is not as effective as using interdental brushes, but may be the only option for very tight gaps. You can find out more in our article about the best floss.
Water flossers are powered devices that direct water between the teeth to clean the gum line. Evidence for these is mixed, but it can be a good option for some people. See our guide to the best water flossers and best cordless water flossers for more information about these.
For information on the differences between the various interdental cleaning options, as well as the evidence behind each of them, check out our water flossing vs dental floss vs interdental brushes article.
There are also other options for cleaning between your teeth.
Woodpicks are a simple straight and pointed stick made from wood. These are not recommended due to the risk of damage to the gums and risk of the wood splintering.
Gum stimulators are rubber tipped devices designed to massage the gum, but not clean between the teeth. These are of limited use as they aren’t fully removing the plaque from between the teeth.
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.
Interdental brushes are recommended as the gold standard for cleaning between the teeth. They are more effective at removing plaque, compared to floss. Many people also find them easier to use and more comfortable too (especially silicone based brushes!).
Floss is only recommended for gaps so small that interdental brushes cannot fit.
Check out our comparison of floss and interdental brushes to learn a little more.
About the different size interdental brushes
Why do I need different sizes?
Selecting the right size interdental brush will ensure the most effective clean.
We all have different sized gaps between our teeth. Even in one mouth, the size of the gap will vary depending on the teeth.
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, or even orthodontic treatment (braces).
Larger gaps need a larger brush. Smaller gaps need a smaller brush. Some gaps will be so small that maybe only floss will fit.
As a general rule, you should select the largest size that fits between the teeth without damage to the brush. There should be a small amount of resistance, but not so much that the brush bends.
Interdental brushes are produced according to international standards. This gives it a label with an “ISO” number, which allows you to directly compare sizes.
The number is about the wire diameter.
The size of the brush is also depends on the length of the bristle fibres, and how they are arranged (for example, whether the brush is straight or tapered).
Because of this the same ISO size can feel different when made by different brands. We are currently working towards an accurate comparison table.
Not all brushes have an ISO size. They can be described in a number of different ways, but look for a wire diameter and brush diameter.
How do I choose the right size interdental brush?
The interdental 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.
The brush should not be so big that you have to force it through the gap and end up bending the wire.
If you have a hygiene appointment with your dentist or hygienist they can also advise which sizes are best for you as an individual.
A guide to TePe interdental brushes
Seeing as TePe is arguably the best known manufacturer of interdental brushes, I have put together a guide specifically for its products.
TePe is a Swedish company who have been manufacturing oral hygiene products since 1965.
TePe interdental brushes have evolved from a tooth stick that founder Henning Eklund designed in 1965, to a much broader range of products including toothbrushes to tongue cleaners.
They are the most widely known brand for interdental products, with the TePe brush being used interchangeably with interdental brush by many dental professionals.
They have a dedication to the product’s design and production, to their customers and to the community.
TePe’s headquarters are still based in Malmo, Sweden where the company began.
TePe has worked to become more sustainable. What eco-friendly policies does TePe have?
- They use 100% renewable energy when making their products.
- They have set a target for all products and packaging to be carbon neutral in 2022, with independent verification with a ISCC Certificate.
- Using renewable alternatives to plastic – e.g. bio-based plastic for the handles of their interdental brushes.
When it comes to their toothbrushes and interdental brushes they have chosen a bio-based plastic alternative, rather than a biodegradable plastic.
The plastic used is bio-based plastic – a castor oil based polyethylene. This PET is easily recycled once you remove the wire and bristle part of the brush.
The TePe product range
TePe now offers a range of different interdental cleaning options. This includes:
- TePe Original Interdental Brush – a short handle and wire/nylon bristle brush.
- TePe Extra Soft Interdental Brush – the same as the original but extra soft bristles.
- TePe Angle Interdental Brush – a longer plastic handle and the attached wire and nylon bristles are at a right angle
- TePe EasyPick – a metal free design with rubbery bristles
Other TePe interdental cleaning products include dental tape, mini flosser, bridge and implant floss, interspace brushes, compact tuft brush, implant orthodontic brush, and the universal care brush.
The products 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.
The basic idea with all of these is a handle and a brush part. The size refers to the cleaning end of the brush, to the diameter of the twisted wire part.
The core to the brush is a wire that the bristles connect to. This brush part flexes when in the mouth, and has a plastic coating for safety and a more gentle clean. The exception is the EasyPicks which have an all rubber coating.
TePe do not make their brush diameter size or smallest hole size widely available.
The equivalent sizes are shown in the table below:
TePe Original Interdental Brushes
The original interdental brushes from TePe are made of a plastic handle with a brush part made of wire and nylon bristles.
The regular brushes come supplied with a clear cap that fits over the brush head to protect it if required. This is particularly useful when travelling.
The plastic lid can also be used as an extension to the handle thanks to the way in which the products have been designed.
There are nine sizes available, equivalent to ISO sizes 0-8.
- 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 Extra Soft Interdental Brushes
The basic design of these is identical to the original TePes. They have a short plastic handle with the brush attached. They also come with a lid.
The plastic handle is made from polypropylene/PP/plastic number 5 and is recyclable with most plastic recycling schemes, once the bristle part has been removed.
The difference is that these have softer bristles which may be more comfortable for some users.
There are only 6 sizes available. They follow the same colour scheme as the original brushes, except these are a pastel version of the colours.
- 0.45mm – Orange
- 0.5mm – Red
- 0.6mm – Blue
- 0.7mm – Yellow
- 0.8mm – Green
- 1.1mm Purple
Accessories for TePe Interdental Brushes
TePe makes 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.
This will protect your brushes if you are going on a longer trip. It is also useful for holding multiple sizes if you need more than one size TePe.
These will also hold the TePe mini flosser or TePe EasyPick.
It is the same size as the travel case that comes with the TePe EasyPicks, but has special shaping to hold your TePes in position.
You can get the TePe Interdental Brush Travel Case here on Amazon.
Another place to buy them is here, on the Dentocare website.
TePe Angle Interdental Brushes
The TePe Angle has the same wire and bristle design as the original brushes.
The difference here is that it has a longer handle. Also, the brush part is at a right angle to the handle.
You may 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. They are equivalent to ISO 0-5. The colour scheme matches the TePe Original brushes:
- 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.
Another place to buy them is here, on the Dentocare website.
TePe EasyPicks are one of the newest TePe products. The simple yet effective design achieved the RedDot award in 2016, which recognises the high design quality.
They are a comfortable and flexible alternative to regular interdental brushes.
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.
They are all-plastic brushes. There is no metal wire. They have a tapered plastic tip with rubber bristles.
These come in three different sizes:
- Orange = extra small/small
- Blue = medium/large
- Purple = extra large
These three different size EasyPicks actually fit in most gaps, even between crowded teeth where regular TePes don’t fit.
They come in a handy travel case, in a pack of 36. This is 6 strips of 6 TePe EasyPicks.
When you need one simply detach from the strip, and use.
You are supposed to dispose of the EasyPick after use. But there is no reason why they cannot be reused, just be sure to rinse or gently brush after use and allow to air dry. Just throw the EasyPick away when it looks damaged.
When it comes to technique you use these in the same way you would a regular interdental brush.
It is designed to be just as effective as regular interdental brushes, and the evidence supports this. They are more than good enough for mild gum disease (gingivitis).
That said, if you have more advanced gum disease, regular interdental brushes are recommended as the gold standard.
Failing to clean in between the teeth leaves 40% of the tooth surface uncleaned.
Interdental brushes are the gold standard for cleaning between the teeth and there is plenty of evidence to back this up.
There are many different options for sizes and materials, so it may take some time to find the best option for you.
Consult your dental professional and keep testing different products until you find one that’s comfortable for you to use.
Are sensitive interdental brushes any different?
Some interdental brushes offer sensitive versions. These are designed to be more gentle on the gums.
I have only had hands on with a couple of brands. They have shorter bristles and do feel softer to touch. Be aware that the difference in bristle length may make them less effective at plaque removal compared to the regular version of the same size.
Why are my gums bleeding when cleaning?
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, improved cleaning is the most important thing to get rid of it. Continue to brush for a few days and the bleeding should reduce.
If the bleeding continues beyond two weeks seek advice from a dental professional.
Where can I buy the cheapest TePe interdental brushes?
Whilst prices of TePe interdental brushes remain fairly consistent, they are always subject to change. It is not possible to say where you can always get the 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 the most well known brand, but it is worth considering other brands that offer what are essentially identical products but may be cheaper.You will have noticed that cheaper alternatives have made it to our best of list.
Take a look at:
- Piksters UK
- ICON (Stoddard)
What are the best interdental brushes for small gaps?
To find out the smallest brush sizes, it is better to look at the “smallest hole” size. Not all brands advertise this and we are working on compiling the data into one large table for you.
Generally small ISO sizes are able to fit into narrower gaps.
0.4mm is the smallest interdental brush available from TePe. This brush has a pink coloured handle.These are particularly prone to bending and snapping.
With hands-on testing I have found the Piksters extra fine/00 (pink) and ICON white/00 to be much better for narrow gaps.
If these don’t fit try a silicone based interdental brush, which does fit better in smaller gaps.
If you cannot fit the Piksters, ICON, or a small silicone based brush, your only other option is floss or a water flosser. These are not as effective at plaque removal so should be used as a last resort.
How often should I use interdental brushes?
You should clean with interdental brushes every day.
Best practice 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.
Using the brushes before toothbrushing means you do not wipe away the toothpaste in between your teeth.
Do I still need to floss?
You should use interdental brushes wherever possible, instead of floss. Only use floss for the narrowest gaps where interdental brushes do not fit.
Do I need to use toothpaste with interdental brushes?
No, you don’t need to use toothpaste with interdental brushes.
There is no evidence to suggest you will get any benefits from using toothpaste on your interdental brushes on a daily basis.
But, if you have sore gums you can use interdental brushes to apply special gels to the gums between the teeth. For example TePe’s Gingival Gel which contains a chlorhexidine (an antimicrobial medicine) or their interdental gel with fluoride (view it here on Amazon or here on Ebay).
How to dispose of interdental brushes
Interdental brushes are not easily recycled.
You need to remove the wire and fibre part and dispose of this as general waste. The handle can be recycled separately.
Some TerraCycle schemes accept interdental brushes, but you need to check the individual scheme. For an explanation about these recycling schemes, see our page on recycling a manual toothbrush and other dental products.
For interdental brush handles, you could recycle them in the following ways (but always check your local schemes to confirm this is correct):
- Bamboo: compost pile or garden waste collection or general waste
- Bio-based plastic number 5/PP: regular plastic recycling
- ”Biodegradable” plastic: industrial composting or general waste
- “Recycled” plastic: check number on side. Generally accepted in regular plastic recycling.
Are interdental brushes bad for the environment?
Conventional interdental brushes are heavily reliant on plastic when making them.
This has a negative impact on the environment because of the resources needed to make the plastic, the difficulty with recycling it, and the potential for harm to the environment if it is not disposed of correctly.
Definitive evidence is lacking. But the environmental impact of using these products to clean in between your teeth is likely to have much less than the impact of if you were to need dental treatment. The best option for the environment is one that helps keep your teeth and gums healthy so that you do not need treatment.
How often do interdental brushes need replacing?
Like a toothbrush, an interdental brush will need replacing. In fact, it needs replacing more often.
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 it after every use unless they are damaged or worn. Just rinse after use and allow to air dry.
How do I know if I am high risk/clinically vulnerable?
If you are at low risk for tooth decay and gum disease, you could consider dental floss. With correct use, this is sufficient for cleaning.
If you are at higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease, you should focus on optimum cleaning. This includes using a good quality electric toothbrush and interdental brushes. These are more effective at plaque removal, which is key to preventing dental diseases.
Your dental professional is the only person who can do this risk assessment for you, but we have some more guidance in this article.
Do discuss this with your dental professional and ask them where you fall in terms of risk for dental diseases.