Ronald L. Cooper DDS, FAGD

One of the most common questions dentists get asked:

 “Do I need to floss every day?” 

Unfortunately, just 30% of the daily population flosses daily.  The reason why that number is so low might be because people are overwhelmed by the number of options available. Luckily, there is no right or wrong floss that you should be using. In fact, several types of floss might be right for you and your dental hygiene needs. 

 Here are the types of floss and a few pros and cons to keep in mind. 

  • Unwaxed floss is thin nylon strands that tend to have no flavor. If you have tight teeth, it can fit into those small spaces. Unwaxed floss is also less likely to slip between your fingers when you are using it, which results in you using less floss. However, it is not very sturdy, and the strands fray more easily than other types. You might experience breakage or snapping when using it. 
  • Waxed floss is standard nylon with a thin wax coating, often with cinnamon or mint flavor. Because of the wax coating, it makes it easier for the floss to slide between teeth and is thicker than unwaxed floss so you won’t experience as much fraying or breakage. However, due to the extra thickness, it makes it harder for you to use if you have tight teeth. The wax is slick, which can also make it hard to grip. Some users might not like the texture and feel of the wax. 
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE) is made from the same material as high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. It slides between your teeth easily and is perfect for people who have crowded teeth or dental work. However, Teflon (PTFE) is produced using Perfluorooctanoic acid, a possible carcinogen. Therefore, many oral health professionals will recommend that you do not use a PTFE product. The Perfluorooctanoic acid has the potential to compromise your immune system and affect your hormone levels. If you feel like this type of floss is right for you, consult with a dentist first. 
  • Dental tape is flatter and broader than conventional floss and comes either waxed or unwaxed. People with more space between their teeth might prefer to use this type of floss, and it is less likely to break. However, because it is thicker than most other types of floss, it is not ideal for crowded teeth. 
  • Super Floss is pre-threaded floss that comes in pre-cut segments. One end is stiffer, which helps to thread it through tight areas like bridges, braces, and implants. It is not ideal for people with narrow gaps between their teeth. 
  • A water flosser is a cleaning device that will shoot a stream of water between your teeth or along the gum line. It can remove food and plaque efficiently and it doesn’t produce waste. For those with braces or dental work, it is a good choice because regular floss can be more difficult. However, it is more expensive than the other options on this list, and a water flosser doesn’t travel as well because it uses electricity and water. 

What Are The Benefits of Flavored Floss?

Using a mint or cinnamon flavored floss might help encourage your children to use it daily. It can also be perfect for an after-lunch routine for adults. If you are busy during the day, you might want to use flavored floss to help promote fresh breath as well as remove food pieces. 

Unfortunately, flossing isn’t easy for everyone. Some, like young children or adults, don’t have the finger flexibility and dexterity to floss their teeth properly. You might want to try using a floss holder, which includes a handle with a curved end that holds a piece of floss. 

Disposable Dental Flossers

Disposable flossers can also be a good option for people who don’t like to put their hands in their mouths or don’t have the finger flexibility needed for flossing. It is a particularly good option for young children who aren’t able to keep the floss holders clean.

If you decide a disposable dental flosser is right for you, try to follow the same technique you would use with regular floss. Put the floss in a position that curves around the tooth in a “C” shape. Next, place the floss under the gum line and work the floss up and down the tooth several times to effectively remove plaque and food particles. 

Are Electric Flosses Efficient? 

An electric flosser is a sturdy fishing line-like nylon that vibrates in an oscillating motion between your teeth. These types of flosses tend to have ergonomic handles, and some will have angled heads, so it is easier to reach the back molars. It is perfect for people who have trouble maneuvering thinner floss. It can be hard on the gum line, however, and can change the shape of your gum tissue if you aren’t careful. Young children, older adults, or people who have an unsteady grip should not use the electric flosser unsupervised. 

No matter which dental floss you choose, we recommend flossing your teeth at least once per day. Happy flossing!