Flossing cleans away plaque that your toothbrush will miss, and is a very essential part of good oral health. In fact, if you only brush and do not floss, you're only really doing half the job.
How to use a dental floss
Dental professionals recommend that if a person floss once per day before or after brushing to reach the areas that the brush will not and allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to reach between the teeth. Floss is commonly supplied in plastic dispensers that contain 10 to 100 meters of floss. After pulling out approximately 40 cm of floss, the user pulls it against a blade in the dispenser to cut it off. The user then strings the piece of floss on a fork-like instrument or holds it between their fingers using both hands with about 1–2 cm of floss exposed. The user guides the floss between each pair of teeth and gently curves it against the side of the tooth in a 'C' shape and guides it under the gum line. This removes particles of food stuck between teeth and dental plaque that adhere to dental surfaces below the gum line.
A variety of dental flosses are commonly available. Floss is available in many forms including waxed, unwaxed monofilaments and multifilaments. Dental floss that is made of monofilaments coated in wax slides easily between teeth, does not fray and is generally higher in cost than its uncoated counterparts.
1. Unwaxed Floss:
It’s made of thin nylon strands. Typically, it has no flavour.
- Pro: It fits into tight spaces. Its non-slip grip property makes it easier to hold, and results in you using less actual floss. This might be a good option for you if your teeth are close together.
- Con: It’s not very sturdy. The strands could fray, and there could be breakage or snapping during use.
2. Waxed Floss:
It’s made of standard nylon with a light wax coating. It may have a mint or cinnamon flavour.
- Pro: The wax coating makes it easier for the floss to slide between teeth. It’s sturdier than unwaxed floss, so no fraying or breakage during use.
- Con: It’s thicker than unwaxed floss, making it more difficult to get into smaller gaps. The slickness of the wax also makes it harder to grip and the texture of the wax may be unpleasant to some.
3. PTFE Floss:
It’s made of polytetrafluorethylene, the same material that’s used in high-tech Gore-Tex fabric.
- Pro: It slides between your teeth with ease for those with crowded teeth and challenging dental work.
- Con: Due to the use of Perfluorooctanoic acid, a possible carcinogen, in the making of Teflon (PTFE), many oral health professionals often recommend the use of a non-PTFE product. These perfluorinated compounds are not only suspected as carcinogenic, but can potentially compromise your immune system and affect hormone levels because they are endocrine disruptors. We recommend consulting your dentist if you have any concerns.
4. Dental Tape:
It’s thicker and flatter than regular floss. It comes in both waxed and unwaxed.
- Pro: Because the floss is thick, it’s a good option if you someone that has bigger gaps between your teeth. It’s also a lot less likely to break.
- Con: It your teeth are crowded together, it might be difficult to floss it between your teeth.
5. Super Floss:
It’s a pre-threaded flosser that comes in pre-cut segments. It has a stiff end that helps thread it through tight areas.
- Pro: It’s great for removing plaque around bridges, braces, and implants.
- Con: This floss isn’t the most ideal for individuals with narrow gaps between their teeth.
6. Electric Flosser:
It has a sturdy fishing line-like nylon that vibrates between the teeth in an oscillating motion.
- Pro: It’s a great alternative for those who have difficulty manoeuvring floss.
- Con: It can be hard on the gum line. Overzealous flossing can actually change the shape of your gum tissue, especially in the part of your smile that can be seen.
7. Natural & Biodegradable Floss:
The environmentally friendly option.
- Pro: Some brands make floss out of silk which will biodegrade in a landfill, and may even compost in your yard.
- Con: Although biodegradable, some environmentalists and animal rights activists are concerned with the impact silk dental floss production has on the insects that make the silk.
8. Water Flosser:
It’s a cleaning device that shoots a thin stream of water between your teeth or at the gum line. This product can remove food particles and plaque with ease.
- Pro: It is easy to use and doesn’t produce waste. This is a good option for those with braces, or other types of dental work where using regular floss can be difficult.
- Con: On top of the higher price range, water flosses may be harder to use outside the home due to the product’s use of electricity and water.