We consistently talk about how flossing is an important part of proper dental care, and daily flossing is a cornerstone alongside brushing and using mouthwash. This said, you may not know which floss is best for you. Wait, there are different types of floss? Just like toothbrushes and mouthwash, companies find plenty of ways to sell floss be it adding flavor, increasing or decreasing width, or even attaching small pieces to plastic handles. You may have been using a certain type of floss up until now and might not realize there's a better option for your needs. Let's break down different types of floss and discuss the strengths of each type.
Basic Floss Properties
Most of us began flossing with standard string floss that is stored in a spool. It comes in different lengths and materials, which we'll get into in a second. You take a length of floss, wind it around a dominant finger like your pointer finger, and and use an up and down motion between the teeth to remove plaque and food particles. (Note: you should never use a "back and forth" motion with the floss as it can damage your teeth). The idea is to use a fresh section of the floss for every tooth so you're not using the same section again and again.
The most important thing to remember is to use whatever floss you buy! If you truly don't like the variety of floss you just bought, then cut your losses and try something you're comfortable with. The worst thing you can do is buy a new type of floss, hate it, and then push off flossing when you open the medicine cabinet. Oh and one more important recommendation - you should only use floss that is ADA (American Dental Association) approved. This way you know it has been tested and performs as advertised.
There are a lot of floss types to consider. If you don't know what to use, we suggest starting with thin string nylon floss and working up from there.
The first variant you'll see is waxed floss. This is a nylon material floss that has a waxy coating to help it slide between your teeth. This variety has been shown to be no more effective than its unwaxed alternative, however it is less likely to fray than unwaxed. Nylon floss is inexpensive, and it's a good starting point for those who don't know what to use.
Unwaxed floss is another popular choice in the dental aisle, and it is made of nylon just like waxed floss. The obvious difference here is it doesn't come with the wax coating. Some people simply don't prefer the slick feel of waxed floss, and they get a better grip when they wind unwaxed floss around their fingers. Again, unwaxed floss and waxed floss are equally effective. Unwaxed floss is generally the most inexpensive floss you'll see in the dental care aisle.
There are several flavored varieties of nylon floss to choose from, the most popular being mint. Flavored floss works exactly the same as waxed or unwaxed floss, you just receive a nice flavor sensation as you use it. Using this type is a good option for those who generally find the sensation of floss unsettling, and the flavor can help distract from this. Users generally won't see much of a difference say in mint flavor after they brush, but this variety is worth trying out if you never have before. As long as it is ADA approved, there's no worry about sugar as part of the flavoring.
Another variant of nylon floss comes in the dental tape variety. This floss is longer on one side so it resembles tape instead of string. Users who favor this type of floss find it easier to slide between teeth, and this is a good variety for children to start with. The potential downside of dental tape is it is sometimes harder to grip and operate.
Monofilament floss offers a departure from the usual nylon material and instead is made from "super" materials like Teflon. Instead of being braided like some string floss, monofilament is, as its name suggests, made of a single strand. This type of floss is extremely strong, and you won't have to worry about it fraying or breaking as you use it. Some people prefer it because it is easier to use due to its strength. The downside comes in the added cost of this material.
The other big alternative in string floss comes in the floss pick. Most people have seen this variety in the dental aisle. They consist of a small portion of floss attached to a plastic handle or pick. This variety of floss has become a fad buy for many because they think it is easier to use.
However we do not generally recommend this variety for a few reasons. First, it is difficult to create the "C" shape required when you move floss through your teeth. Secondly, since there is very little floss "real estate" so to speak, casual users can spread germs from tooth to tooth since they're using the floss over and over again. Sure you can change out several picks through the flossing session, but this brings us to our last problem. The Floss Pick is very wasteful, and they aren't very easy on your wallet if you use them frequently either.
Our suggestion - stick to the traditional string floss whatever your preference on style and material.
Determination On Types Of Floss
The good news is you don't have to buy the most expensive floss to get a good clean. However, as we like to remind our patients, you do need to floss regularly to get the maximum benefit. We recommend sticking to string floss and learning the proper technique to get the best clean for your teeth. We don't recommend flossing picks, however if you have to use one in a pinch, it's certainly better than nothing. For more tips on flossing and a checkup on your teeth, we encourage you to schedule a visit at Grace & Leedy Family Dentistry today!