Different Ways to Floss (And the Pros and Cons of Each)
Ask any hygienist, and they will tell you:
Most people do not like to floss!
If this statement reads true to you, then it’s time to explore different ways to floss.
There are other options made explicitly to clear plaque and food between your teeth. There are:
- Tiny brushes that can reach between your teeth.
- Pointed rubber tips or wooden plaque removers.
- Powerful water tools to flush out harmful bacteria.
- Pre-threaded flossers.
Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of different ways to floss.
1. Proxy brush
A proxy brush is sometimes referred to as an interdental brush. It is coned shaped and has a plastic handle and a small head of bristles held together by a wire.
This floss alternative is simple to use. It is designed to fit between the teeth. It comes in different sizes so you can select one that works best for the spacing size between your teeth.
Most of the proxy sticks are flexible. Just insert the brush between your teeth. If it feels tight, do not force it. Use a smaller brush instead. Go from tooth to tooth to thoroughly clean each space.
The bristles can be made with silicone or nylon. Some brushes are disposable, and others claim that they can be washed and reused several times.
Proxy brushes can be found at pharmacies, grocery stores, or online.
Advantages of a proxy brush:
- It is easier to use for interdental cleaning.
- It works well under the pontic portion of bridges.
- It is effective at removing plaque.
- A proxy brush may be a good alternative for you if joint problems or limited mobility cause difficulty holding the floss.
Disadvantages of a proxy brush:
- It is hard to maneuver the brush in tight spaces and areas of crowding.
- It is slightly more expensive than string floss.
2. Water flossing
A water flosser is a cleaning device that shoots a thin stream of water. Water flossing removes food debris and plaque through pressurized water. When aimed between your teeth or at the gum line, it can remove food particles and plaque on or between your teeth.
There is a debate on whether or not water flossing is equivalent to string floss or interdental brushes.
Water flossing cannot curve between the tooth like string floss or as a brush would do. Instead, it shoots high-pressured water between the teeth to get most of the bacteria.
If you have a reluctance to floss because you’ve had issues in the past of it getting stuck or being painful, water flossing is a relatively beneficial alternative.
The machines can range in price from being inexpensive to rather costly, but they all work the same. You fill the tank with water, choose the pressure setting, and then place the mouthpiece in your mouth to aim the water between the teeth.
Advantages of water flossing:
- Water flossers are easy to use, especially for those with braces, or other types of dental work (like bridges).
- It’s also a great choice for those with arthritis or limited dexterity.
- The massaging action can improve gum health and reach areas where traditional floss can’t.
Disadvantages of water flossing:
- A water flosser can be expensive.
- It takes up storage space on your bathroom counter.
- It needs electricity and water.
- It’s difficult to use outside of your home.
- With Waterpik®, there is a learning curve when first starting to use it. Always start on the lowest setting to avoid water spraying everywhere.
It’s important to remember that:
Water flossing does not work better than string floss at removing plaque because you can’t manipulate the floss to hug the tooth for plaque removal like string floss.
3. String floss (both waxed and regular)
The most common tool to floss with is string floss.
Dental floss consists of a soft thread, string of silk or similar material that used to clean between your teeth. It’s a tried and true way of cleaning those hard to reach spaces between your teeth.
String floss comes in both waxed and non-waxed formulas. Wax string floss is often easier to use because it is made to glide effortlessly between teeth. You can purchase unflavored and flavored string floss.
Advantages of string floss:
- It effectively removes plaque.
- It can be taken anywhere.
- It is the cheapest option.
- You can buy it at any drugstore, grocery store, pharmacy, mini-mart, or airport.
- String flossing is quick and easy. You can do it almost anywhere.
Disadvantages of string floss:
- It can be challenging to reach the back area of your mouth.
- If misused, you could hurt your gum tissue.
- Those with braces find it hard to use.
- It’s not reusable.
4. Dental/floss picks
A dental floss pick is a plastic tool with a u-shaped end that holds a piece of dental floss.
These are often used to try to dislodge food from between the teeth, but some people choose to floss with floss picks.
Because they do not have bristles on them, you’re only relying on a slight scraping motion to get rid of bacteria, which might not be enough to be deemed proper flossing.
More frequently asked questions about flossing
Can string floss be rinsed and reused?
The American Dental Association does not recommend using a floss strand more than once. It states:
“Used floss might fray, lose its effectiveness, or may deposit bacteria in the mouth. Discard after use.”
What is the best time for a child to be introduced to flossing?
It is best to introduce kids to flossing as early as possible.
It can be difficult to teach kids how to pull and twist floss, as well as how to floss back teeth and maneuver the floss between teeth.
Many parents prefer to start their kids with different flossing tools, like interdental brushes or water flossing.
Why should I floss?
- Flossing helps remove a sticky film that contains bacteria called plaque. Cleaning between your teeth allows you to remove the plaque from those hard to reach spots your toothbrush cannot access. Plaque formation on your teeth and around your gum line may cause cavities and gum disease.
- If you do not floss, you give yourself bad breath. You can brush and use mouthwash until the river runs dry, but that will still not get rid of the bacteria between the teeth and below your gum line. You need a method of cleaning between your teeth for that.
- Do your teeth bleed when you brush? If so, flossing can reduce the likelihood of this recurring. Flossing will reverse and prevent gingivitis. What is gingivitis? It is an early sign of gum disease that is caused by the bacteria underneath the gum line, which results in inflamed, red, and often bleeding gums.
- Flossing can keep decay away. By getting bacteria between the teeth, it won’t have a chance to eat away at the enamel and underlying dentin which otherwise would cause a cavity.
- Any problems which arise from a lack of using floss only get worse. You will spend less time at the dental office and less money if flossing is part of your routine. Use any one of the items we listed for cleaning between your teeth.
- Research shows a correlation between flossing and heart health. If you develop gum disease, it can increase your risk of heart disease.
- Diabetes reduces the body’s resistance to infection, and this puts the gums at more risk of developing gum disease. It is particularly important for a person with diabetes to use flossing to keep away gum disease and tooth decay.
- Pregnant women should floss because gum infection can have an impact on their developing baby.
Do not underestimate how important good oral health is.
Why should you floss?
Because a healthy mouth improves a person’s ability to speak, smile, chew, swallow, and make facial expressions to show feelings and emotions.
Have a question about the different ways to floss or your oral health? Contact us today! We would be happy to share our knowledge with you.