We learn at a young age that brushing teeth is important for our oral health. However, that’s not the only thing you need to do to take good care of your teeth and gums. While brushing cleans the surface of your teeth, it’s also important to clean between the teeth. Dentists also recommend flossing at least once a day. But which dental floss is best? The truth is that it’s different for everyone. That’s why we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to help you decide what dental floss is best for you.
Types of Dental Floss
There are many dental floss types and not any one type is right for everyone. In fact, it’s not uncommon for someone to keep more than one type of floss on hand. Here are just a few examples of what you can find in the floss section at your local store.
- Unwaxed floss – a thin nylon floss that fits well into tight spaces but can be easily broken or shredded.
- Waxed floss – a thin nylon floss with a wax coating that makes it less likely to break but harder to work into those tight spaces.
- Dental tape – a broad, flat version of floss that comes in both unwaxed and waxed versions like standard floss.
- Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) – a durable material that slides between teeth easily and is more resistant to tearing and shredding.
- Super floss – a yarn-like material with stiff sections on each end typically used by people with braces or bridges.
Floss also comes unflavored or in a variety of flavors. More traditional flavors include mint and cinnamon, however recent years have seen increased flavor options.
One of the most important aspects of choosing the right floss is to choose one you and your family members will use. Scientific evidence indicates that there’s virtually no difference in plaque removing capabilities of most types of floss when used correctly. So, finding one that you like using outweighs anything else when it comes to brushing and flossing teeth.
Finding the Right Dental Floss
Remember that you don’t have to settle on just one type of dental floss. You and your family may do best with a few different types of floss in your home and on the go. Different dental flosses may also work better for different family members so don’t feel pressured into limiting yourself to only one option. It’s also not uncommon to change dental floss preferences over time. When in doubt, you can always ask your dental professionals what they recommend.
Always look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.
The American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance identifies flossing products that have been evaluated in both safety and effectiveness by independent experts. Dental floss brands can only earn this special seal by providing scientific evidence that their product is more effective than brushing alone when it comes to reducing gingivitis and plaque. It also must prove to be safe to use in the mouth and that it is unlikely to harm your oral tissues. Looking for this seal ensures the floss product you’ve purchased will be effective if used correctly.
Consider thinner options if teeth are tightly spaced
For crowded teeth or teeth with little space between them then thicker flosses may be uncomfortable or difficult to use. In this case, you may find exploring smaller flosses to your advantage. There are several single-strand flosses on the market. Many people with tight spacing feel as though a waxed version, even though it does add some thickness, actually helps the floss get into those tight spaces more easily. However, if the floss is still too thick then you may want to look into an unwaxed option.
Consider thicker options if you have large gaps between your teeth
Widely spaced teeth still need regular flossing. When regular floss isn’t enough to fill the space between your teeth then you may want to consider thicker varieties. This can include woven floss or dental tape. It’s a common misconception that you don’t need to floss if your teeth are spaced further apart. It’s still difficult for a toothbrush to adequately remove plaque from between teeth, especially along the gumline so don’t skip out on this important step in your dental hygiene routine.
Floss Picks are great options for individuals with limited dexterity in their hands
Some people find that a floss pick is much easier to use in comparison to standard dental floss. Dental floss picks can help anyone with decreased mobility due to aging, arthritis, injury, or a number of other scenarios. Floss picks are also preferred by younger children in most instances due to their ease of use. They don’t require the user to wrap floss around their fingers to get to those hard-to-reach places. Instead, the pick itself holds the floss tight for easy use. Most floss picks also have a toothpick on one end.
Kids love flavored floss pick varieties
If your child needs a little extra encouragement when it comes to flossing, you may want to look into flavored floss picks. With dozens of fun new flavors on the market, floss picks make flossing easy and tasty for youngsters.
Symptoms to Observe When Flossing
No floss guide would be complete without understanding what symptoms may indicate a problem while flossing. It’s time to see your dentist if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Red, swollen, painful gums
- Bleeding gums
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Increased gum sensitivity
- Discharge around the gumline
- Loose teeth
- A bad taste in your mouth even after you’ve just brushed
- Shifts in alignment
- Gum recession
If you notice any of these symptoms between your regularly scheduled dental visits, then it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your dentist. They’ll be able to evaluate your oral health to determine if there’s a problem or if you need to make a change to your dental care routine.
Helpful Flossing Tips
We have a few tips we like to share with our Cross Dentistry patients to make sure they are remembering to floss. This includes keeping floss in easy-to-access places where you will remember to use it. Popular places to store floss and/or floss picks include:
- The medicine cabinet
- The center console or glove compartment in your vehicle
- In a purse or wallet
- At the office
- In the kitchen
Keeping floss readily accessible will help you remember to use it more often.
Another great tip to make sure you floss regularly is to floss all your teeth when you start. It’s easy to remember to floss your teeth when something gets stuck between them. But instead of just removing the offending object, take a few extra seconds to floss between the rest of your teeth at the same time. This way, even if you forget to floss later, you’ve already flossed at least one time that day.
Setting a routine is another great way to stay on top of flossing and create healthy habits. For example, floss your teeth at the same time every single day. This could mean in the morning, after breakfast, lunch, or dinner, or even at bedtime. Set an alarm to help you remember until the action becomes a habit.
If you or a family member has braces or bridges, then you may want to look into floss threaders to make flossing easier around the oral appliances. A floss threader helps you get a piece of floss where it needs to go to properly floss without having to work around hardware in the mouth. It’s extremely important for those with braces to floss properly as the braces themselves make it even more difficult to maintain great oral hygiene.
Stay on Top of Your Regular Dental Appointments
Even though you’ve successfully added daily flossing into your routine, it’s still important to visit your dentist regularly. Checkups every six months help ensure that minor dental problems don’t become bigger issues that cost more and have a bigger impact on your mouth. Catching a cavity early may mean avoiding a root canal later. Treating gum disease early on could mean you’re preventing the need for tooth extraction later. Proper brushing and flossing go a long way but don’t skip out on your dental cleanings and exam dental visits.