Written by Dr. Shaista Salam, BDS | Medically Reviewed by Dr. Zein El Hammouz, DDS, MFD/RCSI.
1. Types of Dental Floss
2. The Best Dental Floss for your Teeth
3. How to Choose the Best Dental Floss?
4. Why is Flossing Important?
With so many types of dental floss available in the market these days, it becomes incredibly difficult to choose the right one. When deciding which one to get, you should take into account some factors like: your gum health, the condition of your teeth, and if you have any fixed appliances like braces, implants or bridges. Read on to find out how you can decide which is the best dental floss for you.
A standard floss is a thin strand made of nylon that fits into the small spaces between your teeth. If you have crowded teeth, a standard floss with a wax coating can get into tight places and effectively clean your teeth. Waxed dental floss is best for patients with braces as it easily slides in and out of small spaces and is gentle on the gums. Unwaxed or regular floss may get frayed when used around braces or implants. (1)
A water or electric floss uses small water jets to remove plaque and food particles between your teeth. Water floss is one of the best dental floss you can use if you have braces or cannot use standard floss. It can help clean in between your wires and brackets. In addition, water floss is extremely gentle on the gums and reduces gum inflammation. (2)
If you find that regular floss slides in very easily or you see significant gaps in-between your teeth, it is advisable to use a broader or flat floss called "dental tape" that reaches all the surfaces. A broader floss like dental tape will make flossing easier when large gaps are evident.
Super floss is usually recommended for people with a fixed dental appliance like braces or a crown & bridge. It is made of three parts: a rigid end to floss under the braces, a spongy part to floss around your braces, and a standard floss to remove plaque below your gums.
A floss threader is a flexible plastic needle with an eye at one end for looping the floss through. Since the threader is stiffer than string floss, it easily passes under bridges, braces, and fixed retainer. (3)
A floss pick is a disposable and pre-measured piece of floss on a small plastic handle. It is an easy option to carry if you're traveling or don't want the hassle of cutting standard floss before using it. They are easy to use in tight spaces and can effectively remove food particles from between your teeth.
Standard floss or waxed floss
Can easily get in between tight spaces
Can be inserted under the bridges, fixed braces and retainer using the stiffened end
Floss must be gentle on the gums but also effective in removing plaque
Easier to handle
Inderdental picks may make it easier to clean black triangles-caused by receding gums
Water or Electric Floss
It helps clean around them without scratching the implant parts surfaces
Water or Electric Floss
It pushes the plaque away with the power of the water jet
Using a specific type of dental floss is a matter of personal choice because all of them effectively remove plaque when used appropriately.
Waxed floss is slightly thicker than regular floss but slides easily between tight teeth contacts because of its waxy coating. You may want to use waxed floss to prevent fraying if you have braces. However, be mindful that the wax coating may cause sensitivity reactions in rare cases.
Since the dental tape is broad and flat, it is recommended when there are significant gaps between the teeth or if your regular floss slides in too easily.
Pressurized water jets can flush out food and debris trapped in the gum spaces. Thus, water floss is an easy-to-use alternative when people lack the manual dexterity to use regular string floss or under braces and implants (7) (8).
Floss picks are a convenient option to carry with you when traveling. However, floss picks are not as effective as regular string floss in reducing plaque since they cannot reach all the corners and surfaces of your teeth. So only use them if you don't have string floss around.
Both super floss and floss threaders have a stiff end that helps to insert the floss between braces, under bridges, and retainers. The main difference is that you have to buy your string floss separately with a floss threader.
Flossing is an excellent means to prevent the buildup of plaque. When left for long, plaque hardens into calculus (a white mass) on the gum line, which is very difficult to remove with regular brushing. This hardened plaque also contains bacteria that attack the gums, leading to gum disease and infections. In short, flossing helps (4) :
Here's the correct way to floss (5):
Flossing and brushing are equally important for your oral health. Do not skip either one! Brushing removes plaque and food debris from the front and back surfaces of your teeth. At the same time, flossing removes plaque and food from the spaces between your teeth where the brush cannot reach.
Countless brands of dental floss are accessible to the public nowadays. Choosing the right one for you is purely based on your preference and which one is most effective in cleaning your teeth. Whichever one you choose, make sure to follow the correct flossing technique to get a brilliant smile!