Best Flossing & Dental Care Products
While flossing can sometimes feel like a truly tedious task, it's one that's needed to maintain good dental hygiene and keep your smile looking bright and white. If string flossing just isn't your thing, there are plenty of alternatives to traditional flossing that you can try out instead.
Made with a light wax coating and thin width that's made to slide easily in-between teeth, Oral-B Essential Floss is a popular pick when it comes to string floss.
Reliable and effective
Long-lasting 50m length
Dispenser is fiddly to use
The Waterpik Ultra Professional can be a handy addition to your oral care routine if you’d like to complement your string-flossing with thorough water flossing, or you find it hard to floss between braces or dentures.
What happens if you never floss?
Flossing, also called interdental cleaning, can effectively clean the gaps in-between your teeth, and under the gumline.
Since half the surface area of your teeth is contained in these areas, brushing alone is not enough to maintain proper dental hygiene. Brushing and flossing are both required.
Leftover food and drink residue, including acid and sugars, build up naturally between teeth throughout the day. When unremoved, they turn into sticky plaque, which hardens into tartar (or calculus) over time. At this stage, you’ll need to get the dentist to scrape the tartar off your gum line in a professional scaling procedure.
Flossing is a simple yet effective way to avoid this from happening. It removes plaque before it becomes a problem, helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, and helps keep breath smelling fresh.
Dentists recommend flossing at least once a day, for two minutes. Daily flossing should be an essential part of your dental hygiene routine if you have any two teeth that are touching. This includes adults and most children, who will likely need help from an adult until they’re around 10 or 11 years old, as they lack the finger dexterity required to floss independently.
How do I floss?
Brush your teeth first to remove any food particles on teeth or loosely lodged between them with your toothbrush.
Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around both your middle fingers, leaving one inch of floss to work with.
Hold this one-inch of floss tight between your thumb and forefingers. Slide the floss gently up and down the sides of each tooth, making a sideways ‘C’ shape between two teeth. Do this up to the gum collar, but don’t go too high, as this may cause gums to bleed.
Repeat this process, using a clean inch of floss as you move to different teeth.
String flossing tips
Tip #1: Apply a medium amount of pressure. If you floss too hard you may damage the tissue between teeth and gums, which can cause pain or bleeding. If you floss too softly, you might be leaving gunk behind.
Tip #2: If you’re a first-time flosser or you’re unsure if your flossing technique is correct, ask our dentist to give you a practical demonstration.
Types of Floss
This refers to traditional dental floss, as most of us know it. It comes in 2 types, either nylon floss or PTFE floss.
This is also called multifilament floss, and is made up of several nylon strands bunched tightly together. If you have tight spaces between teeth, nylon floss can often break when you’re using it. Nylon floss is available in waxed floss and unwaxed floss.
- Waxed floss: is made with a thin layer of wax, it slides easily up and down teeth than unwaxed floss. It’s usually stronger than unwaxed floss, too, and the wax is likely to be flavoured, for fresher breath. Waxed floss is thick dental floss - and thicker than unwaxed floss. As a result, it can be harder to get into tight spaces between teeth.
- Unwaxed floss is thinner, which allows it to fit into tight gaps more easily. It also allows for more control while manually flossing. Ultimately both types are just as effective as each other; it just comes down to personal preference.
Also known as single filament or monofilament, PTFE floss is made from a well-known synthetic polymer, perfluorooctanoic acid. It’s more resistant to shredding than nylon floss, however is also less common, and difficult to find. There have also been reported health concerns about using PTFE, so it’s best to consult your dentist before using it regularly.
This is thicker and flatter than regular dental floss, and can be waxed or unwaxed. Dental tape is the same as dental floss in terms of effectiveness, they just feel different. Which one you opt for will depend on what feels more natural to you, which you'll discover through trial and error.
Made from material that’s thick and yarn-like, super floss has stiffened ends that are ideal for cleaning around braces, dental bridges and wide gaps between teeth.
Dental floss picks
Also called floss sticks, these refer to plastic interdental cleaning tools. They have a handle on one end, and a curved head (the ‘pick’) on the other. The pick holds a strip of dental floss stretched between it.
Dental floss picks are easier to hold and control than string floss for people with dexterity issues, for example those caused by arthritis. If you source a pick with a long handle, they’ll also be easier for reaching back teeth than string floss, which is fiddly for this purpose.
These are soft, bristled brushes that clean between teeth, with a handle attached onto the end. For example, Piksters use a strong wire coated in plastic for their brush heads. These may be preferred by people with larger gaps in their teeth, as the brush (even smaller sized brushes) is unlikely to fit between tightly-spaced teeth.
These have a string of taut nylon that vibrates between teeth using an electric motion. It’s like the flossing version of an electric toothbrush. If you don’t like the manual action of flossing, this can provide the motivation to floss regularly. However, going too hard with an electric flosser can damage the gumline, so always apply caution and a gentle hand.
Water picks and Air flossers
aim a jet of water between teeth to clean them, while air flossers use a blast of air along with microdroplets of water. While a water flosser or air flosser can be effective at removing larger food particles, both of these electric flossing appliances don’t clean in-between teeth, as the space is too small. It’s often recommended to use electric flossers in conjunction with another flossing method, like string flossing. You can read more about water flossers here.
What is the best type of floss to use?
This depends both on your teeth, and which type of floss and method of flossing, you prefer.
Since flossing is an essential part of a proper oral care routine, it makes sense to pick a method that you can envisage yourself actually doing every day.
There are some people who don’t mind traditional string flossing. However, many people find it to be a bothersome manual chore, or don’t have the finger dexterity for it.
In these cases, an electric flosser may be more convenient. Or you may find string flossing works fine for your front teeth, but not between the back ones. In this case a floss pick or a floss threader could help.
Other people may find string flossing to be ineffective because they have large gaps in their teeth. If this is the case, you can try interdental brushes instead, selecting bristled heads in a suitable width that matches the size of your gaps.
If you’re flossing for the first time and are still feeling a little overwhelmed by the number of flossing options out there, have a chat with your dentist. They can have a look at the shape and placement of your teeth, to recommend a method that can work best for you. It’s never too late to start flossing, and your oral health will thank you for it.