If you’ve ever been scolded by the dentist for failing to floss your teeth regularly, consider all your options to find the right floss for your teeth and gums. Our dental floss guide will help you choose the right products to keep your gums healthy and your smile bright.
Keep the following points in mind as you consider dental floss products:
If you experience changes in the appearance of your gums, such as new redness, swelling, or bleeding, talk to your dentist. These symptoms may signal a serious health problem.
Pregnancy can affect gums and teeth. Some women experience more gum bleeding during pregnancy or even a feeling that their teeth are “looser than normal.” If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, ask your dentist how best to care for your gums and teeth at this time.
If you hate flossing because you feel it doesn’t make a difference or the floss shreds or falls apart between your teeth, you may need a different product. Try one yourself or ask your dentist for a suggestion of what would work best for your mouth.
If you floss regularly and your dentist still feels you don’t floss enough, ask for a refresher on proper flossing technique. There really is such a thing as good flossing habits, which many of us haven’t reviewed since grade school.
Waxed & Unwaxed
What it is: Dental floss is a waxed or unwaxed thread of string used to remove food particles and plaque from between teeth and under gums. Waxed and unwaxed floss both come unflavored or in a variety of flavors.
Why to buy: If you find that unwaxed floss seems “sticky” or disintegrates between your teeth, waxed, which is more slippery, may work better for you. If you find that waxed floss feels too thick to maneuver between your teeth, unwaxed floss may be a better option.
Things to consider: Either product will do a good job, so use whatever one feels like it works best for you. Try different brands and flavors to find something you can feel good using daily.
Single Strand or Weaved
What it is: Weaved dental floss is made of numerous threads or strings woven together into a thicker, sturdier strand. Single strand and weaved floss both come unflavored or in a variety of flavors.
Why to buy: Single strand floss may work better for people with “tight” teeth that have very little space between them. Weaved floss is a good option for people with more space between their teeth, or who find that regular floss shreds or breaks between their teeth.
Things to consider: Either product can work well, so long as you use it every day.
What it is: Dental tape is similar to floss, but is wider and flatter than the single or weaved strands of dental floss.
Why to buy: Some people find that dental tape is easier to control than floss and allows for more comfortable flossing. Dental tape may be more effective for removing food particles and plaque for people with larger gaps or spaces between the teeth.
Things to consider: Dental tape tends to be more expensive than dental floss. However, if you prefer tape and use it more consistently than floss, it is worth the extra expense.
What they are: Dental picks, also called inter-dental picks, are similar to toothpicks, and come in a variety of shapes and materials. They can be wood, tiny brushes, or little pieces of floss secured between plastic pieces that can be maneuvered between teeth. Picks and brushes come in sizes for tight, medium, and loosely spaced teeth.
Why to buy: If you have a bridge or tooth implant, or if flossing is difficult or impossible for you, try dental picks. Many people find that floss removes particles from tight spaces, while picks work best to knock larger pieces of food from between teeth and bridges, implants, or gums.
Things to consider: If you have a new implant or bridge, work with your dentist to discover which type of flossing product is right for you. You may benefit from using a combination of floss and picks. If you don’t like one type of dental pick, consider another. Use caution with picks so that you don’t poke or cut your gums.