Dental floss: 4 important things you need to know

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What is dental floss?

Dental floss is a cord of thin filaments used in interdental cleaning to remove food and dental plaque from between teeth or places a toothbrush has difficulty reaching or is unable to reach. Its regular use as part of oral cleaning is designed to maintain oral health.

Dental floss is usually made from one of two polymers, nylon or teflon, in which:

Nilon is the fiber of a long-chain synthetic polyamide. It is also a compound characterized by more than one amide group – related to ammonia. Teflon is the trade name for the polymer compound polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). In addition, some other auxiliary materials may include coatings (such as wax), flavorings, other ingredients… depending on the manufacturer.

Dental Floss
Dental Floss

Why should I use dental floss?

From the age of 12, you should use interdental brushes in addition to brushing as part of your daily oral health routine.

Because some people do not have enough space between their teeth to use an interdental brush, flossing can be a good alternative.

Thread Floss

Thread floss is made of nylon and functions similarly to other dental flosses. Simple to use and glide between the teeth.

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Waxed and Unwaxed Floss

Dental floss also comes waxed and unwaxed.

  • Unwaxed floss is made from nylon made of about 35 strands twisted together.
  • Waxed floss is also made from nylon and covered with a light wax coating.

Some people prefer the unwaxed variety because it absorbs more food particles. Unwaxed floss easily fits into small spaces. If your teeth are close together, however, this type of dental floss will break and fray along the edges.

The waxed variety of dental floss glides through the teeth more easily. Waxed floss is less likely to become entangled between teeth or catch on rough edges. It will also not fray or break as easily as unwaxed dental floss. The wax, on the other hand, makes the floss a little thicker. If your teeth are closely spaced, you may prefer to use unwaxed dental floss.

Flavored and Unflavored Floss

If you enjoy the fresh minty flavor that many toothpastes boast about, you can also get flavor-infused dental floss. A mint flavor leaves a pleasant fresh, clean aftertaste in the mouth. You could try a cinnamon flavor or fluoride-coated floss. If you’re having trouble getting your kids to floss their teeth, flavored flosses are the way to go.

Tape Floss or Dental Tape

Tape floss, also known as dental tape, is an option if your teeth are widely spaced. It’s thicker and wider than regular dental floss and won’t fray or break easily. It gives the impression of getting into both sides of a tooth with larger gaps in between.

Dental Tape: Types, Uses, and Modifications - Tricky Care

Super Flosses

Super floss is a yarn-like substance. It’s used to clean the areas around braces and dental bridges. This type of floss can withstand the rigors of flossing between those complex spaces when wearing braces or dental bridges because it has stiffer sections on each end.

PTFE Floss

PTFE is an abbreviation for polytetrafluorethylene, which is the same material used in the high-tech Gore-Tex fabric. It easily slides between your teeth. It’s ideal for people who have difficult tooth formation or crowded teeth. Because perfluorooctanoic acid may cause cancer, you should consult your dentist before using PTFE floss.

Biodegradable and Natural Floss

If you’re worried about the planet, you can buy floss in reusable glass bottles packaged in biodegradable packaging.

You can also buy silk floss that has been waxed with plant-derived vegan candelilla wax and is biodegradable.

Flossing Aids

Did you also know that when it comes to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, there are also various tools to help with flossing your teeth?

  • Flossing stick;
  • Dental floss holder;
  • Vibrating dental flosser;
  • Water flosser.

It might take some experimentation to find the right tools for your unique needs, but your dentist can help make recommendations based on their professional knowledge.

Flossing Stick

A flossing stick resembles a stick and is the most effective when wound tightly onto it. The tighter the floss, the more effective it will be.

different tools for flossing Archives - Designs for Dental Health Blog - Hillsborough NJ Dentist

Dental Floss Holder

Y-shaped dental floss holders are available. The floss is attached to the top points of the Y and functions similarly to holding floss in your hands. The Y floss holders are quick and simple to use, making it easy to reach those hard-to-reach areas of the mouth.

The longer the handles, the easier it is to use them. They are ideal for individuals who have crowns, dental implants, a bridge, or orthodontic braces.

Vibrating Dental Flosser

Assume you dislike the idea of manually flossing your teeth in front of a mirror. In that case, a vibrating dental flosser is an option. They are simple to use and provide a gentle massage to your gums. The disadvantage is that they are more expensive than traditional dental floss options.

This electric flosser vibrates between the teeth using a strong single-line nylon. This oscillating motion is ideal for those who struggle with dental floss. When using an electric vibrating dental flosser, take care not to damage the gum line.

Water Flosser

A water flosser is a lovely way to floss that also has a massaging effect. A water flosser easily removes plaque and food particles by shooting a thin streak of water between your teeth and the gum line. They are an excellent choice for those who have braces or bridges.

water flosser

The Proper Flossing Technique

You’re flossing your teeth. Great. However, in order for dental floss to effectively remove plaque from your teeth, you must use the proper technique.

Because you’ll be inserting your fingers into your mouth, wash your hands before reaching for the floss. In four simple steps, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association explains the key elements of proper flossing technique:

  1. Wind: Wind 18 inches of floss around one hand’s middle or index finger, whichever you prefer, and a small amount around the other hand’s middle or index finger. (Using your middle finger frees up your index finger for floss manipulation.) That may seem excessive, but you only need enough to keep a clean segment in place as you move from tooth to tooth. Pinch the floss between your thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one- to two-inch gap. Direct floss between upper teeth with your thumbs.
  2. Guide: Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth.
  3. Glide: Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. Be careful not to let the floss snap or “pop” between teeth. Contour floss around the side of the tooth, making a C shape with the floss as you wrap it around the tooth.
  4. Slide: Floss against the tooth surface and under the gum line, making sure to floss the back side of each tooth. As you move from one tooth to the next, unroll a fresh section of floss from one hand’s finger while rolling the used floss onto the other hand’s finger. As a guide, use your thumb.

This technique applies to any type of floss: waxed, unwaxed, spongy floss or dental tape. As long as you use the correct technique, the type of floss you use is a matter of personal preference. There are many types to choose from, and you can even choose a variety of types to meet your needs and those of your family members.

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Proper Flossing Technique

Flossing tips

  • Break off about 45cm of floss and wind some around 1 finger of each hand.
  • Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, with about 2.5cm of floss between them, leaving no slack.
  • Use a gentle “rocking” motion to guide the floss between your teeth. Do not snap the floss into the gums.
  • When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it into a C-shape against a tooth until you feel resistance.
  • Hold the floss against the tooth. Gently scrape the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on the other side of the gap, along the side of the next tooth.
  • Do not forget the back of your last tooth.
  • When flossing, keep to a regular pattern. Start at the top and work from left to right, then move to the bottom and again work from the left to right. This way you’re less likely to miss any teeth.


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