Types of Dental Floss
There are many types of dental floss and there is no one “right” floss for everyone. In fact, there’s no reason why you can’t have several types of floss and flossing products on hand. A small container of nylon dental floss or dental tape is great for a purse, pocket or carry-on travel bag. A mint-flavored floss can be a great choice to use when you’re traveling so you don’t have to carry a bottle of mouthwash. And when you’re at home, you can treat yourself to your electric flosser.
As with any other product, finding the right dental floss for your oral care needs might take some trial and error. There are so many types of floss and flossing products to choose from that the choices can seem overwhelming. No matter what product you choose, the most important thing is to floss daily.
Best Dental Floss for Plaque Removal
Results from a recent study published in the Journal of Periodontology showed that there was no difference in the plaque-removing ability of four different types of flossing products. In this study, 25 people were assigned to use four different products: an electric flosser, an un-waxed floss, a woven floss, and a shred-resistant floss. All four floss products showed significantly greater plaque removal compared with tooth brushing alone, and the electric flosser showed the highest average plaque reduction after one use.
A study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry compared the safety and plaque-removing ability of an electric flosser and a standard dental floss. In this study, 78 people were assigned to use either a standard dental floss or an electric flosser. After 30 days of use, both groups had significantly less plaque on their teeth than before they began their daily flossing routines, and the electric flosser and the standard floss were equally effective at removing plaque. In addition, both flossing methods were found to be equally safe. No signs of trauma to the hard or soft tissues in the mouth were associated with using either product.
Since research shows that the electric flossers are as safe and effective as the standard floss, should you choose an electric flosser instead of one of the many types of standard floss? Many people can benefit from electric flossers, especially older adults who may have trouble manipulating floss with their fingers. Older children and teens may be more likely to use electric flossers than standard floss because they find them fun, especially if they like using electric toothbrushes.
Finding the Right Dental Floss
But you need not choose only one type of floss or flossing product. Different members of your family may need or prefer certain types of flossing products, and these needs and preferences will change over time. Young children may start with specialized, child-sized, non-electric flossers and then graduate to an electric flosser or a spongy floss that fits around braces or other dental hardware.
If you're uncertain about which type of floss is best for you or a member of your family, ask your dental professional for advice. Here are some points that might be helpful:
Not much space between your teeth? You may find that a waxed floss is easier to slide into those tight spaces.
Want less mess? Look for disposable flossers or floss in pre-measured strands.
Braces or bridges? A spongy floss is a good option, but any floss can be used if you wear dental appliances, especially if you have a floss threader.
Many people keep standard floss on hand for traveling, and use an electric flosser at home. If your spouse prefers, say, mint-flavored un-waxed floss while you prefer a coated dental tape, you can’t go wrong by keeping some basic floss on hand that everyone can use.
Just remember that when it comes to dental floss, flossing every day is the most important choice you and your family can make.
Symptoms to Observe When Flossing
No matter what type of floss you choose, check with your dental professional if you observe any of these symptoms when flossing: Red, painful or swollen gums, increased tooth or gum sensitivity to hot and cold, bleeding gums (especially when you are brushing and flossing), pus or discharge around the teeth and gums, loose teeth, a bad taste in your mouth, changes in the way your top teeth and bottom teeth line up, and evidence that your gums are pulling away from your teeth (which might make your teeth look longer).
Helpful Flossing Tips
For office-based oral hygiene, try stocking your desk drawer with a pack of disposable floss picks, or a floss with pre-measured strands. Either option is perfect for quick and easy use. If keeping any type of floss in the office helps you remember to floss every day, that’s the right choice.