The Best Type of Floss for You

No matter how well and often you brush your teeth, there are some places those bristles just can’t reach, such as the gum line and the tight spaces in between your teeth. You’ll need to use floss to keep these tricky areas clean and free of plaque buildup, food debri, and bacteria left over after brushing — otherwise, you could wind up facing gum disease or other infections. Bottom line: we should all incorporate flossing into our oral hygiene routines!

As of 2014, only about 7 out of 10 American adults brush their teeth twice a day. Where does this put flossing, then? Approximately 4 out of 10 Americans say they floss once a day, and a solid 20% say they never floss.

Put it this way: would you only brush your upper teeth and ignore your lower set? When we skip flossing, we are neglecting an important part of the mouth that is especially prone to bacteria buildup. The effects add up!

With several different types of floss to choose from, how do you know which one best suits your oral health needs? One type of floss is not necessarily better than the next; they can each offer advantages depending on personal preference.

Types of floss

The most common types of floss include:

  • Unwaxed floss
  • Waxed floss
  • Polytetrafluoroethylene floss
  • Dental tape
  • Super floss
  • Toothpicks
  • Tip stimulator
  • Wedge stimulator
  • Interproximal brushes and swabs
  • End-tufted brushes
  • Irrigation devices

Which is the best?

We recommend unwaxed, smooth floss, such as POH floss due to its strength and effectiveness to remove plaque and other debris.

Waxed floss is a good choice if you have tight spaces and are unable to use unwaxed without breakage or shredding. However, there are some studies showing wax residue may remain on teeth, which in turn would cause inflammation leading to gingivitis and/or periodontal disease.

Flossing with braces? There are a few tips to make the job easier. First, use waxed floss. As noted above, it’s easy to slide between your teeth. However, you’ll need more than floss to get the job done. To easily slide the floss under the wire, use an orthodontic floss threader. This is a rigid, yet flexible, plastic tool to help floss under bridgework and behind wires. They look like large plastic needles. Just slip the floss through the eye of the threader, and use the threader itself to direct and guide the floss.

Dental tape is easier to grip and works better between teeth that aren’t quite so close together. It is a wide, flat, ribbon made from nylon that can either be waxed or unwaxed and is thinner than your average floss. As a result, it covers more surface area on your teeth in one go than your average floss, and it’s also easier to grip.

What on Earth is an oral irrigator? These typically use a thin and steady stream of water to remove larger bits of debris and food left in your mouth. It is not recommended to only brush and use an oral irrigator, though, as they do not remove plaque from your teeth.

What works for you?

If you wear braces, waxed floss with a floss threader should be your go-to choice to get the job done. If not, you have a few more options, and a lot of it will come down to preference. An irrigator can help blast away debris that would otherwise be missed before flossing to really get a 24-carat smile.

Of course, in addition to regular brushing and flossing, maintaining your dental health and hygiene requires routine dentist appointments. Contact us to schedule your next visit!

Photo courtesy of Iwan Gabovitch via Flickr