As part of a good oral hygiene routine, flossing every day is essential to avoid gum disease and stop tooth decay. If you’re confused about the many flossing options, and how to floss for best results, you’re not alone! Let’s have a look at a few popular types of floss and how to use them properly.
When you think of dental floss, you probably think first of the most popular kind of floss that is made of thin string or tape material. This original dental floss is highly effective in dislodging and removing particles between teeth or in hard-to-reach places.
Dental floss is available as standard, unwaxed floss or waxed to make it easier to get into tight spots. Dental tape floss is a bit wider and flatter and also comes in unwaxed and waxed. Other floss materials are also available that create a stronger dental floss. You may need to try the different types of floss to find what works best for you.
To use, start with about 18” of dental floss and wind most of it around each middle finger. This should give you an inch or two of floss that you can hold taut between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently insert the floss between each tooth, sliding it up and down between teeth. Make sure you go beneath the gumline, by curving it around the base of each tooth and use the floss between all teeth.
Dental floss, as described above, is also available in a flavored variety. This type of floss is worth mentioning as dental floss with a mint flavor might be a good choice for people resistant to flossing! While the way you use mint-flavored floss is just the same as described above, the taste might encourage kids or teenagers to floss more regularly or help you feel especially fresh after lunch!
Small, plastic devices that have a piece of dental floss threaded onto it are called flosser picks or floss picks. Floss picks are popular because they are easy to use and very convenient. No need to wind floss around your fingers when you use a floss pick!
Although floss picks can be a little awkward to hold and use at first, they can be useful for people who have arthritis or who have limited hand dexterity. It should be noted, however, that some believe floss picks can make it easier to floss but aren’t necessarily as effective as traditional dental floss. Likewise, because the floss pick has a pre-threaded piece of floss in it, you’re not using a fresh piece of floss between each tooth. The last consideration is that a floss pick is a single-use plastic, which is not very environmentally friendly.
To use floss picks, carefully insert the floss section between teeth and slide the pick up and down. Just like with dental floss, work the floss pick down around the curved base of each tooth to gently slide beneath the gumline. You may need to practice to ensure you remove all particles and be sure to use the floss pick between all teeth in the mouth.
Electric water picks, also known as oral irrigators, are also available and can be used to clean between teeth. Using a jet of water, a water pick dislodges food and debris. This pulsating stream of water flows can be aimed to stream and reach tight spaces.
Water picks can be a gentler option than floss and can also reduce gingival, or gum, bleeding. For those who struggle with regular dental flossing or who have had major dental restoration work, a water pick might be a good solution! Water picks are more expensive than traditional floss, however, and also require a new spray tip every three to six months.
Water picks can be a bit messy to learn how to use but are worth the effort of practicing. While you should follow manufacturer recommendations, you can use warm water in the water pick reservoir. You will choose the tip and start with the pressure control set on low. Leaning over the sink, put the tip inside your mouth, turn the unit on, and clean around and in between the back teeth, both top and bottom, aiming the tip at a 90-degree angle just above the gumline. Work your way to the front and rinse when finished.
Designed specifically for cleaning between teeth, a interdental brush is a small brush that is available in different diameter sizes. While interdental brushes were intended as a supplement to a toothbrush, they can serve well as a dental flosser, too. They are easy to use and can be a good method to keep gums and teeth healthy.
Interdental brushes are ideal for people who have larger spaces or gaps between teeth. Wide teeth spacing can make it difficult to use dental floss efficiently, making interdental brushes a more effective option. These small brushes are also useful for people with limited mobility or who have dental braces. Interdental brushes can also be used on dentures and bridges. Interdental brushes can, however, be more expensive than dental floss.
To use an interdental brush you only need one hand to maneuver the little device. Get the interdental brush wet with water or toothpaste. Holding it like a pencil, slowly slide the tip of the brush between the base of two teeth. Move the brush back and forth a few times, angling it to clean both sides of the teeth. Continue between each gap and rinse your mouth out with warm water.
So what’s the best dental floss for you to use? We have to say that it’s the one you’ll use regularly! If you’re unsure which dental floss to choose, talk to us. We can make recommendations based on your teeth and what’s available to get you the right tool for the job!