As you probably know, flossing is one of the best ways to preserve gum health, prevent decay and ward off tartar and plaque between the teeth. Even though this information nearly universal, only about 50% of Americans floss daily. Where does the discrepancy originate? For many, flossing either takes up too much time or doesn’t fit in with their schedules. Others simply don’t like using dental floss. With this in mind, we wanted to take a moment to introduce different types of floss, flossers and flossing alternatives. We are sure you can find a product that fits in with your dental care needs!

 This Oral-B floss is both waxed and has a threader built in. 

This Oral-B floss is both waxed and has a threader built in. 

Although there are many different brands of traditional dental floss on the market, they all generally produce the same results. The real difference comes from preferences in packaging, flavoring and texture. For patients who have found floss too “sharp” or “cutting” to use, we suggest looking for a waxed variety. Furthermore, those with orthodontic appliances, bridges or permanent retainers might benefit from floss with an attached threader tip. While these varieties may be more expensive than using a reusable threader, they offer added convenience and ease of use.

 GUM Soft Picks are great alternatives to traditional floss.

GUM Soft Picks are great alternatives to traditional floss.

Beyond traditional floss, there are a number of great alternatives designed to clean between your teeth. Many patients enjoy single-use flossers with handles, as they are portable, disposable and easy to use on-the-go. These devices are also great for kids who don’t yet have the motor skills to use regular floss. Others may prefer flossing picks, such as GUM Soft-Picks. These tree-shaped products expand below the gumline to remove plaque similarly to regular dental floss. Because of their shape, they great for cleaning around orthodontic appliances as well.

 A Typical Water Flosser

A Typical Water Flosser

Water flossers such as the Waterpik systems can also be utilized in cleaning between the teeth. Research suggests they are not as thorough or effective as other flossing methods, but they still represent an improvement over doing nothing. There are certain scenarios where water flossers can be a benefit to patients with periodontal disease, but this needs to be evaluated on an individual level. As with any oral hygiene product, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations when using water flossers. Regularly changing tips and cleaning water reservoirs prevents the buildup of harmful bacteria and biofilms.


At Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry, we know that our patients are presented with a number of choices in dental home care. We want to give you the information to make the best choices for your personal needs. If you would like to know more about flossing, toothbrushes, toothpaste or any other dental products, please give our office a call!

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