All Things Floss: Traditional, Water, Picks and Brushes

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Are you using the right kind of dental floss? Floss is not a “one size fits all” product though, some flossing tools are better than others. From traditional floss and water flossers, to picks and interdental brushes, I’m going to walk you through the variations of floss and how well they clean between your teeth and gums.

Regardless of the type of floss you use, flossing is an important part of your dental care routine. The American Dental Association recommends daily flossing to maintain good oral hygiene. Unfortunately, only about 15% of individuals floss on a regular basis. Flossing prevents oral bacteria in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay. It is also effective at removing plaque and food particles that a toothbrush cannot reach on its own. Studies show flossing must be performed on a routine basis to be effective. Otherwise, it’s not beneficial.

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Traditional Dental Floss

The most common type of floss is traditional dental floss. This floss is effective at maintaining good oral hygiene when used correctly but more often than not, the majority of adults do not floss regularly enough to have ideal results. That being said, traditional dental floss is a great option for those who use it at least once a day, but if not it is no more effective than toothbrushing alone.

Interdental Brush

Interdental brushes (IDBs) consist of a central metal wire with soft nylon filaments twisted around them. Studies show IDBs are effective at removing plaque as far as 2-2.5 mm below the edge of your gums. IDBs are the most effective tool at removing plaque from the tooth’s surface. Additionally, IDBs are dentists’ tool of choice to clean around dental implants and are especially favorable for those with plaque or gingivitis and for periodontal patients who are likely to have widened tissue in their gums. Overall, IDBs are the preferred flossing tool for the deepest clean.

Water Flosser

Water flossers remove plaque using pulsation and pressure to flush out bacteria and other debris in the mouth. Water flossers reduce inflammation in the gums better than toothbrushing alone and reduce bleeding around implants when compared to traditional floss. An advantage of water flossers: they are reusable and only require replacement of the water flosser tips every three to six months.

Floss Pick

Floss picks are designed to remove plaque using friction against the surface of the tooth. Floss picks work well but are not much better than regular toothbrushing, because they can be hard on sensitive gums and they are more likely to spread bacteria and food particles to other parts of your mouth. They are most effective for their ease of use and convenience and are popular in older individuals.

No matter what flossing tool you use, any type of flossing is better for you than not flossing at all. For best results, I recommend flossing once a day along with brushing your teeth twice a day. If you have questions about which floss is right for you or if you’d like to discuss your options with me, call 251-344-4571.