Flossing as a regular part of a dental care routine can be a significant defense against gum disease and dental cavities. The purpose of floss is to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth and under the gumline where toothbrushes are unable to reach. The American Dental Association states that up to 80% of plaque can be removed from teeth simply by flossing. It is recommended that a person floss at least once per day before or after brushing to help clean between the teeth and near the gumline.
Just like toothbrushes, dental floss comes in a wide array of choices, with varied textures, materials, and coatings. What type of floss is best?
Although there is a plethora of options for floss, they typically come in one of two main styles: Traditional string floss and dental tape floss:
- Traditional string floss is round and typically comes either in waxed or unwaxed form.
- Dental tape floss is a flat floss, wider and flatter than its string floss counterpart. Dental tape is a bit stretchier than traditional string floss.
When choosing a floss, it is important to consider how much space is available between your teeth as well as the health of your gums. If you have a larger than typical spacing between your teeth, dental tape may be a better option as its flat surface will help you make contact with more of the tooth’s surface area. If your gum tissue is inflamed, start your flossing routine with a softer, traditional floss that will gently clean the area between your teeth with minimal disruption to the gums.
As well, a waxed floss vs. an unwaxed floss will slide more easily in between your teeth and will help prevent against breakage of the floss while in use.
If you have difficulty with dexterity or reaching the back of your mouth, a flossing tool or floss pick may be helpful. These are tools that hold the floss for you as you clean in between your teeth. The downfall with using flossing tools is the difficulty with angles to reach in between all of your teeth as well as the possibility of sharing bacteria from one area to another, as no new floss is used from start to finish.
At the end of the day, however, the key is simply to floss your teeth, regardless of the exact product you use. Studies have shown a significant impact by even flossing 2-3 times per week vs. not at all. Try a few different types of floss and see what works best for you! Use the floss that will keep you motivated to make this a regular part of your daily routine.
We at Cooper Family Dentistry are here to help you implement the right oral hygiene habits for a lifetime of healthy teeth! Call our office today to schedule an appointment: 501-982-7547, or, for your convenience, fill out an appointment request online.