Flossing is no fun. For a lot of people, it’s uncomfortable.
But isn’t flossing supposed to be really important? Don’t dentists recommend it?
- Flossing Effectiveness
- Pros & Cons
- Flossing Technique
- Best Dental Floss Ranking
- Dental Floss vs Dental Floss Picks
What Is Dental Floss?
Dental floss is a string of materials — the type depending on the floss — that is for cleaning in between teeth where a toothbrush may not reach.
Importance Of Flossing
Brushing teeth is great, but those bristles don’t get every part of every crevice in between your teeth. Dentists generally agree that a toothbrush will reach 65% of the surface area of the teeth, leaving 35% of the surface area needing dental floss to full clean.
Imagine what would happen if you never flossed — the grime, bacteria, and plaque would build up, making it more and more difficult to clean.
If not taken care of promptly, buildup of plaque and tartar can lead to gum disease.
Dental Floss Types
Not all floss is equal. There are two main types of floss — waxed and unwaxed.
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), either type of floss will work fine. There are no studies that show either waxed and unwaxed floss to be better than the other. The ADA says that as long as the floss has the ADA seal, it’s safe to use and will be effective.
The biggest difference, however, is people’s preference between the two. Most people prefer waxed floss, but some people think the waxed floss is too thick — this was the deciding factor in most cases where someone preferred one over the other.
The point is to use floss, regardless of the type you choose. Flossing on a daily basis is crucial for good oral hygiene.
Does Flossing Work?
This might be a surprising question to see in a guide about flossing, but it’s one that people legitimately ask.
Ever since 1979, the United States government has been pushing the idea of flossing. But in 2016, they admitted that they had promoted flossing without any research to support it, which is required for them to do so.
During an investigation into the effectiveness of dental floss, the AP looked at 25 studies on the topic. What they found was surprising — they said the evidence in favor of flossing was “weak, very unreliable.”
“…Most of these studies used outdated methods or tested few people,” the AP writes. “Some lasted only two weeks, far too brief for a cavity or dental disease to develop.”
However, Wayne Aldredge, president of the periodontists’ group, used a logical train of thought when explaining why he still urges his patients to floss.
“It’s like building a house and not painting two sides of it,” he said. “Ultimately those two sides are going to rot away quicker.”
And that makes sense when you think about it. How else are you going to clean the in-between cavities of teeth?
Although the science to support flossing is a bit lacking, the key, explains Aldridge, is to floss correctly. And when done correctly, there are some serious benefits of flossing.
Pros And Cons Of Dental Flossing
When it comes to flossing, here are some of the pros and possible cons of flossing your teeth:
- Dislodges food debris from in between the teeth
- Scrapes surface of teeth, helping to remove buildup
- It’s a low risk, low cost method
- Damage to gums or teeth if done too vigorously or incorrectly
- Can be uncomfortable or painful
How To Floss Your Teeth Correctly
So how do you floss correctly? If you could cause damage by flossing the wrong way, we should discuss how to floss the right way.
Proper Flossing Technique
After you pull the floss out of the container, you can either wrap boths ends around each of your index fingers or use the loop method. The main difference is that the loop method is more comfortable on your fingers, safer for your gums, and possibly more precise.
Here’s how to use the loop method of flossing:
- Get a piece of floss about a foot and a half long
- Tie the two ends together in a knot — this will create a loop that should slide over four of your fingers with extra slack
- Put the floss over the thumb of one hand and the index finger of the other with just a little space in between your two fingers
- Floss with an up-and-down motion, not a back-and-forth motion
Using this method gives you more control, it’s more comfortable, and it should end up being more effective.
Proper Flossing Storage
It’s important to keep your floss in a clean place. So make sure it’s covered, protected from toilet or sink splashes. You can store your floss next to (or inside) your toothbrush holder to keep it safe. This will also remind you to floss when you brush.
Dental Implants And Flossing
When it comes to dental implants, the first thing to remember is that they are not teeth. Yes, they have replaced your teeth, but they are still made of some contrived material with no nerve endings.
For this reason, if you floss too aggressively, you might accidentally cut open the Peri-implant seal and allow bacteria to seep into the pocket, right where the bone is. Try to gently floss around implants, not going too deep into the pocket.
Best Dental Floss
Now that you know the ins and outs of dental floss, you’ll be able to better choose the right floss for you. And here are some handpicked dental floss products that you should consider.
If you have sensitive gums, this dental floss from Listerine might be a great option for you, thanks to its cushioned design. This soft woven floss comes in a mint-cinnamon flavor, which can help with curing bad breath.
Flossing is usually not comfortable, but with this waxed dental floss from Oral-B, you can have flossing sessions with less discomfort. And Oral-B is a name you can trust — it’s the No. 1 dentist recommended brand.
Johnson & Johnson claims their mint-flavored waxed dental floss removes up to 52% more plaque than non-waxed floss. If that’s true, that’s worth the price.
This is as basic as dental floss gets, but sometimes all you need is the basics. Colgate keeps it classic with the plastic container and 25 meters of floss.
It’s not as common to see unwaxed dental floss, but (as we mentioned earlier) there’s no significant difference between waxed and unwaxed floss. And POH is offering 100 yards of the unwaxed stuff.
Dental Floss vs Dental Floss Picks
On top of choosing between waxed and unwaxed floss, you also have the option of using traditional dental floss and floss picks. So how can you know which is better?
The history of standard dental floss goes back much further than dental floss picks. It’s long been a way to remove debris from in between teeth where a toothbrush can’t quite reach.
The method of use is really what differentiates regular floss from floss picks.
Dental Floss Picks
A floss pick is a little plastic handle with a U-shaped end, holding a small piece of floss between the two peaks of the U shape. This makes picks easier to use than regular floss, especially the hard-to-reach areas like the back of your mouth.
Picks work just as well as dental floss in terms of effectiveness. Either way, you’re putting floss in between the teeth and cleaning out the plaque.
Should You Use Dental Floss Or Floss Picks?
Researchers have conducted many studies on the difference in effectiveness of dental floss and dental floss picks. None of those studies have found any significant difference, so it basically comes down to this — use what works for you.
Whichever you prefer, that’s what you should use. The main takeaway point is that you should be flossing every single day, regardless of the type of or vehicle for floss.
Dental Floss Facts
Here are some very interesting facts about dental floss that you probably didn’t know:
- If you’re brushing and not flossing, you’re cleaning only 60% of your teeth.
- Irregular flossing can lead to gum bleeding.
- You need to use 18-20 inches of floss so you can be sure to use a fresh section with each tooth.
- The most popular flavors of floss are mint, cinnamon, and bubblegum. But there are some pretty crazy flavors, like wasabi and bacon.
- Monofilament floss is made up of plastic and rubber and multifilament floss is made up mostly of nylon and silk.
Even though there’s not much scientific evidence supporting flossing, it’s pretty clear that it’s beneficial. Logically thinking, it removes food from between your teeth, which helps prevent tooth and gum decay and bad breath.
So whatever brand you use and whether you go with regular floss or a floss pick, it’s important to use dental floss regularly.