Did you know dental floss had its own day? I didn't until recently--but it is on November 23rd.
Flossing is still the best way to reach plaque that is in between your teeth in areas where your toothbrush can't reach. "String" floss is still the standard. It is the one that can best be wrapped around the tooth. Flossing correctly is important, so ask your dentist or dental hygienist to review the correct way to floss with you. You can also read about it here: How To Floss
String flosses come in several varieties:
- Unwaxed: tends to be thinner and has not coating on it. Some like it because it doesn't leave a residue behind and it squeaks when the teeth are clean. Some don't like it because it is harder to slide it between the teeth and it tends to shred or break more easily.
- Waxed: has a waxy coating on it to make it easier to slide between your teeth. Some versions are flavored and some are not. Some people say they get a residue from the wax on their teeth.
- Teflon Coated/Easy Slide Varieties: these have a coating on them that makes them easier to slide between the teeth--some say it's even easier than the waxed flosses. Other experts say the slick coating on this type of floss also makes it easier for the floss to slide over plaque rather than removing it as it is intended to do. We do recommend making a few extra up and down passes with this type of floss compared to the others.
For those with physical dexterity problems who cannot hold string floss, there are floss handles available. Some still require you to load the string floss onto the holder (with new floss each day) and others have prefilled cartridges that are inserted, used for one pass through the mouth, and then the cartridge is discarded.
Other people who don't like to use string floss will use a preloaded floss pick. these do work, but often times the floss is not able to wrap as much around the tooth due to the construction of the floss pick itself, so make sure you are pushing it against the tooth to wrap it around it as much as possible with the device you use. Again, these should be used for one pass through your mouth and then discarded.
For those people who have had gum recession or who have wider spaces or "triangles" between their teeth, proxybrushes are an option. These come in a variety of styles and are basically a small brush that fits between the teeth. Be careful to never force these into a space. They should only be used in areas where the slide in easily. Most of the time, these brushes can be rinsed and reused, just like your toothbrush. (They should be replaced on a regular basis. Some types just the brush needs to be replaced and you can reuse the handle, and others are a one piece construction.)
You can also learn more about interdental cleaners here: Interdental Cleaning Devices
If you have a fixed partial denture (or "bridge") you will need to use either a floss threader or a 3-in-one floss or some other type of floss device that has a stiffer end at one side to allow you to thread the floss under the welded portion of the bridge to clean the sides of the teeth and the underside of the bridge.
There are also some fancier devices that help with flossing:
- Oral Irrigators (WaterPik and others) use a concentrated stream of water to remove plaque from between your teeth.
- SonicFusion (WaterPik) combines a sonic toothbrush with a water flosser. Theoretically you could brush and floss in the same 2 minute cycle
- Hummingbird flosser (Oral B) vibrates the floss to help insert the floss between your teeth and move the dental plaque around.
- Air Flosser (Phillips Sonicare) uses a blast of air to move plaque off your teeth
- There was also a flosser that had a thin fiber that you positioned correctly between your teeth then turned it on and the fiber vibrated/rotated to clean the area between your teeth.
Hopefully, you are now ready to celebrate National Floss Day!
*Note: Information in this article is not meant to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist with an office at
1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd. W
Lorain, OH 44053
You can also find us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/DrJenniferRobb