You hear it all the time. Brushing is essential in keeping your smile healthy. But flossing is essential too. It does 40% of the work keeping the teeth clean.
You may be asking then, what type of floss should I be using? Let’s find out in this post.
Types of floss
There are several types of floss, and there’s no singular best option. You can be using different types of products, and that’s okay. Finding out which one works best is trial and error.
Identifying the right floss depends on your specific needs, similar to choosing a toothbrush. Dental appliance users may prefer a different floss than others. Those with dexterity issues may also choose another floss type.
Even in a single household, members may be using different floss types. So, what are the floss options available? Here are some of them.
- Waxed floss. Waxed floss is made of nylon and coated with wax, as its name suggests. The wax enables the floss to glide more easily between teeth. Waxed floss is stronger than unwaxed floss due to its extra layer. It may be ideal for those with tight teeth.
- Unwaxed floss. Unwaxed floss is thinner than its waxed counterpart and may be more prone to snapping. But, it’s often free of flavouring, which may be suitable if you want your mouth exposed to fewer artificial ingredients.
- Dental tape. A dental tape, also known as ribbon tape, is flatter, wider, and stretchier than regular dental floss. It may be beneficial for those with gaps between teeth or struggling to hold thin dental floss strands. A dental tape is less likely to break and is easy to glide between teeth because of its flat surface.
- Dental pick. A dental pick is a D-shaped plastic tool that can be an alternative if you’re struggling with traditional dental floss. The curved end holds a piece of floss, while the other end of the handle comes with a pick for removing larger debris between teeth. The handle of a floss pick makes it easier to control. Some types are also battery-powered. The vibrating motion cleans the teeth while massaging the gums at the same time.
- Superfloss. A superfloss is designed for teeth with dental work, such as bridges or braces. It may not be fit for those with tightly spaced teeth. It has three parts – the stiff end, spongy floss, and regular floss. The stiff end threader allows you to move the floss more easily under a dental appliance. The spongy floss helps you remove deposits, and the regular floss is used the same as you would a standard floss. The strands also come pre-cut.
How to floss properly
Aggressive or improper flossing can hurt the gums and teeth. Here’s a guide on how to floss:
- Take at least 18 inches of floss. This should be enough to ensure you have a fresh section to use for each tooth.
- Wrap the floss around your middle fingers and leave about 2 inches for flossing. Hold the thread tightly using your thumb and index fingers.
- Position the floss between any two teeth and gently glide it up and down. Be careful not to floss into your gum to protect it against potential damage.
- Curve the floss gently once it reaches the gums so it can access the space between the tooth and gums. But, again, don’t glide the floss right on the gum.
- Repeat these steps until you finish cleaning all areas. And use a new floss section as you go.
Don’t forget to floss the back of your last tooth as toothbrushes often miss this spot.
What happens if I don’t floss?
Flossing is important even with daily brushing. And it’s never too late to get into the habit.
If you dislike flossing or are uncomfortable with the tool, seek advice from your dentist or dental hygienist.
Brushing won’t be able to get rid of all debris stuck on teeth. Letting these deposits linger in the mouth can increase your risk of developing dental problems.
Here are potential issues that can occur without flossing.
- Plaque and tartar buildup. Skipping flossing allows deposits to collect between teeth and along the gumline. This can lead to increased plaque and tartar buildup.
- Bleeding gums. Plaque and tartar buildup can irritate the gums and make them sensitive when you brush. Aggressive brushing or flossing can cause the gums to bleed.
- Heightened sensitivity. The tooth nerves become more exposed as the enamel wears away and the gum pockets recede. This leads to increased sensitivity when anything hot or cold contacts your teeth, making eating and drinking uncomfortable.
- Bad breath. Debris accumulating in the teeth can lead to halitosis.
- Cavities. Plaque and tartar buildup can progress and lead to cavities. As the infection worsens and the acid breaks down the enamel, holes in the teeth develop. It starts with brown or black spots, which signify decay.
- Loose teeth. Without flossing, your teeth and gums become more vulnerable to issues. Improper oral hygiene can cause harmful bacteria and acid levels to rise. As the gumline recedes, teeth will become loose. Left untreated, this can result in tooth loss.
What kind of floss is right for me?
There’s no single correct answer to this. The right type of floss varies per individual.
The best one is the type you’ll use and are comfortable with. So go ahead and try different options. Your dental hygienist and dentist can help you get started by showing you how each product works. Share your concerns so they can recommend the best possible solution.
Dental floss isn’t a substitute for a toothbrush, but rather the perfect supplement for it.
At Central Dental Family Dentist in Edmonton, Alberta, we understand that not everyone is fond of flossing. It takes time to develop good habits. As dental care professionals, we’re here to guide, assist, and not judge.