Patients often come to us with questions about how to take better care of their teeth between visits. One of these queries is regarding dental floss. Is one floss better than another? Let’s take a closer look to shed some light on this one.
Floss is usually nylon (multifilament) or Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) – which is a monofilament. Nylon floss comes in either waxed or unwaxed.
There are several different floss options to choose from:
This is touted to slide easier than unwaxed floss between teeth that are tighter together. It is also more resistant to breaking, and preferred for use by people with braces.
A study published in the Journal of Periodontology stated that 79% of people surveyed preferred waxed floss vs. 21% who preferred unwaxed.
Waxed floss also comes in flavors such as mint, tutti fruity, cupcake, and even bacon. Flavored floss may be especially attractive to children.
When you use unwaxed floss, it may “squeak” between your teeth, indicating all of the plaque has been removed.
Some proponents of unwaxed floss like it as there are some chemicals in waxed floss, notably Teflon (PTFE). Teflon reduces friction. While Teflon is not considered to cause cancer or be harmful, some people prefer to limit their exposure to unnecessary chemicals.
Many people find interdental brushes to be easier to use than floss. Further, they have the ability to extend into concave surfaces between you teeth. Floss does not.
Floss picks are another alternative. They hold the floss for you, requiring only one hand to floss. They are, however, considered to be less effective to use than actual floss because of the inability to reach the necessary angles to floss your teeth correctly.
Oral irrigators are like dental water jets, using a stream of water to remove plaque and food that might be caught between your teeth.
Repeated studies have shown that people using oral irrigators show better results for reducing bleeding and gingivitis levels in comparison to floss users.
The bottom line: Much like an exercise machine, the best floss is one that is used daily. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that we floss at least once a day.
The ADA states, “Look for the ADA Seal—your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and efficacy by an independent body of scientific experts, the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.”
You may even try different brands to identify the one you like best.
Find one that works for you and go with it. You’ll be on the right track to better dental health and hygiene. Please contact us if you have further questions regarding dental floss.