Flossing is a crucial component of a healthy mouth – the American Dental Association recommends cleaning between the teeth once a day – but it’s a commonly overlooked hygiene practice. With many types of interdental cleaning tools on the market, there’s no excuse to skip that part of the routine. But when it comes to flossing, what kind of floss works best?
Traditional String Floss
There are many different kinds of dental floss – waxed, unwaxed, dental tape – that come in plastic containers holding long spools of one continuous thread. To floss, one piece, typically about 18 inches long, is broken off and wound around the fingers, then worked gently in between the teeth as well between each tooth and the gumline. A new, clean segment of floss is generally used for each tooth.
Traditional floss can be tricky for some people to use properly. It requires dexterous fingers to unwrap a new section of floss for each tooth, and it can be difficult to reach the crevices between teeth in the back of the mouth. Some people also find traditional floss to be too harsh on their gums, causing pain and bleeding.
Floss picks, or flosser picks, are small, plastic devices with a piece of dental floss pre-threaded through the opening. Floss picks should be worked gently in between the teeth the same way as traditional flossing, to help loosen and remove plaque and food particles.
Picks are a newer kind of interdental cleaner, and they’re popular because they’re easy to use. The plastic handle makes it easier to hold, eliminating the need to wind and unwind sections of floss around the fingers, which can be awkward and uncomfortable. It also allows for better access to the teeth further back in the mouth. Floss picks are also portable and easy to stash in a purse or desk drawer to take care of any unsightly food particles while at work or eating out.
But the same plastic design that makes floss picks easy to use also makes them somewhat less effective than standard dental floss. They can clean between the back teeth better, but the design makes it more challenging to use proper flossing technique throughout the mouth, working in between both sides of the tooth and under the gum line.
Using just a single pick to floss the entire mouth can also create an unhealthy oral environment by redistributing particles and bacteria from one part of the mouth to another. With traditional dental floss, a clean section of floss is typically used for each tooth, but with picks, the same very small segment of floss is re-used over and over.
Which is Better: Traditional Floss or Picks?
When it comes to dental floss, the tried and true traditional string floss is generally more effective. Using it with proper technique helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth, which prevents bad bacteria from growing. With many different varieties and even flavors, there’s a dental floss for nearly everyone, from children to those with sensitive gums.
Using floss picks is still better than simply forgoing flossing, however. For people who struggle to use traditional floss, like those with very large or arthritic hands, or those who can never seem to reach the very back teeth, floss picks are a great alternative.
Want more tips for healthy teeth? Contact Water Tower Dental Care today to learn more.