“Floss the teeth you want to keep” is a popular motto in dental offices to remind patients about the importance of flossing. While brushing your teeth and attending routine dental visits are good to keep your mouth healthy, flossing is equally important.
Flossing is necessary because it helps remove food and plaque debris that a toothbrush cannot reach. It is a preventative tool to reduce your chances of developing tooth decay and also keeps your gums healthy. People who don’t floss regularly may develop gum problems like gingivitis or periodontal disease, because there is increased inflammation.
The biggest question patients have aside from how often you should floss is how to pick the best floss. There are different types of floss depending on your oral health needs, dexterity, and budget. Certain types of flosses will fit your personal preference and needs better than others.
Different Types of Floss
String floss is the most common type of floss because it is affordable and there are numerous brands of stringed floss. String floss works by going between the teeth ro remove food or plaque that cleans the sides of teeth.
To use string floss you need to wrap two pieces between your fingers and create a C-shape and floss between the teeth, under the gum. You can choose whether you prefer waxed or unwaxed string floss. Some string floss even are coated in fluoride or coconut oil to promote good oral health and protect your teeth from tooth decay and gum disease.
Many people prefer floss picks because they are easy to control, especially for people who are younger or who have dexterity issues. A floss pick works in the same way as string floss, but is a small piece of floss between two plastic holders.
They typically come in large packs, which make it easy and affordable. The one downside of using floss picks is that you reuse the same piece of floss for each tooth. It is recommended to clean the floss between flossing each tooth, so you don’t reintroduce food or plaque to that new area. Also, if you are not careful you may injure your gums if you push too hard with the floss pick, therefore it is important to gently use the floss pick between your teeth.
A floss option for some may also include the floss threader, which is a type of floss used for people who have orthodontic appliances or bridges and it helps thread under these prosthetics. They are not floss, but help thread floss string through between your teeth.
To use a floss threader, break off a piece of floss approximately 18 inches in length. Then, loop the floss string through the threader. You then loop the threader behind the metal bar of your braces.
A water flosser is a great oral health tool for people who are in orthodontics or have difficulty using traditional floss. A water flosser, or oral irrigator, is not an alternative to traditional floss, but best used as an adjunct tool.
They work by using a high pulsating irrigator to push water through the teeth. It does not remove plaque the same way brushing and flossing with string does, but is a great adjunct to remove harmful bacteria that can be flushed away.
One of the most popular brands of oral irrigators is Waterpik, which offers various types of products depending on a person’s lifestyle needs.
How often should you floss?
Dentists recommend that you should floss once per day, in addition to brushing your teeth twice a day. Some people prefer to floss more often, like after they eat a meal to avoid food getting stuck.
Which is the best type of floss?
Both string floss and floss picks are an effective way to remove bacteria from between teeth and promote good gingival health. Regardless of the floss you prefer, you should consult your dentist to see if there is a better option because of your oral health needs. Some people with prosthetics like bridges need to use a water flosser because they are not able to get under their bridge with traditional floss.
Standard string floss is considered the most effective and efficient type of floss because it is able to clean the sides of the teeth and is not as harmful as floss picks. An oral irrigator is preferred by many because it helps make the mouth feel fresh and clean by using a pulsating water to push debris through the teeth.
The number one way to pick the best floss to use is to ask your dental professional which type of floss is best for you and try out different brands until you find one that works best.