Flossing is an important part of any preventative dental hygiene routine and should be done daily. If you’re like most Americans in a recent American Dental Association poll, you probably don’t floss as often as you should, because you either feel it takes too much time, feels too painful, or feel that it’s “gross”. You may also count yourself in the 20% of respondents that admitted they only floss when they feel something “stuck” between teeth like an annoying piece of popcorn. This occasional attention won’t give you the benefits flossing has to offer, however – habitual flossing is what really helps your teeth stay clean and healthy. Not all food pieces will irritate or hurt the gums, which means you could have a virtual breeding ground for harmful, stinky, oral bacteria lurking behind your smile.
Types of Floss
While commercial floss was originally crafted of strands of silk as far back as 1882, innovation has changed this humble, smile-saving strand into what we know it as today. There are now different types of floss available for different individual dental needs and preferences.
Floss picks consist of small 2 to 3 inch-long plastic bodies with a slender handle and a piece of floss strung across the front edge, which looks a bit like a reverse bowstring. The idea behind these smart little portable flossers is that the user doesn’t need to wind the floss around their fingertips or hold their hands at unusual angles to get at rear molars. Some floss picks also feature additional molded-in dental tools, such as a flip-around portion in the lower handle with a toothpick or tongue scraper attached. Sold both loose in bag form and as kits in hard-sided plastic cases that can fit in a purse or pocket, they’re a go-to toiletry bag item for frequent travelers. This flossing option is inexpensive, typically under $8 even for larger bags, and can be found at virtually any store that sells toiletries. If you struggle with regular dental floss or have mobility issues like arthritis which prevent you from using regular floss, this can be a great option to choose.
Likely the most familiar floss of the three options, string floss is the traditional “wind around both index fingers” floss. It can be waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, and it is usually made of either nylon or PTFE (a type of Teflon plastic). This floss comes in either a thin, braided thread or a very slender translucent ribbon. Typically less than $5 for a spool with a built-in cover and floss cutter, it can be found anywhere that toiletries are sold. This flossing option is cost-effective and typically the most recommended by dentists.
No matter which type of flossing option you decide to choose, your flossing method is as important as your medium. Flossing shouldn’t hurt, and you should never “snap” or force floss down between your teeth or into your gums. If you’re using a string-type floss or floss pick, gently slide the floss back and forth at gaps between teeth, letting it slide through naturally. Make sure to brush your teeth well after flossing to remove any dislodged food, bacteria, or debris uncovered from flossing. Finally, never reuse floss, as this may accidentally spread bacteria to healthy parts of your mouth. Paired with regular preventative dental visits, flossing and other dental hygiene habits will keep your smile bright and healthy.
Williams & Daily Dental is a family and cosmetic dentist located in North Raleigh, NC with a team of dedicated dentists enthusiastic in their commitment to their patients. We offer dental implants, Invisalign teeth straightening, in-office and home teeth whitening options, and Oral-B electric toothbrushes. Contact Williams & Daily at (919) 846-9070 for more information and to schedule an appointment today.