Is floss still the boss?


The first floss was developed in 1815 in Louisiana by American dentist Levi Spear Parmly who designed the product from a silken thread. Humans have been utilizing floss for 207 years. As modern dentistry and dental hygiene practices evolve so do research and product engineering. We are practicing at such an exciting time. There is no shortage of flossing options for the modern patient.


Why flossing is important for your overall health?

Our mouth is like our stomach. Both are full of bacteria. The bacteria inside the mouth doubles in number every 5 hours. For example, after we floss and brush in the morning we have a few hundred bacteria in our mouths, by the end of the day we have millions. This is why it is so important to remove the layer of plaque from between the teeth daily. Proper flossing has been clinically shown to help prevent bad breath, gum disease, cavities, and support heart health.


Modern Alternatives to string floss:

There are several alternatives to traditional string floss:

  • Interdental brushes: These are tiny bottle brushes that are more effective at removing plaque than string floss. Interdental brushes come in a variety of sizes to fit everyone's needs. They are very easy to use. The brush should be inserted between the teeth 4 times on the cheek side and four times on the tongue side for maximum benefit. Examples: Gum proxabrush go-betweens, Denteck interdental cleaners, Te-Pe interdental brushes, and GUM soft picks.

  • Water flossers: Water flossers are also scientifically supported to aid in oral bacterial removal. I love the options waterpik provides that meet a variety of patient needs such as an orthodontic tip, a plaque seeker tip for dental implants, a tongue-cleaning tip, and a pikpocket tip designed to reach deep periodontal pockets. Examples: Waterpik, burst water flossers (burst promo code: P18E2Z), and Sonicare water flosser.

  • Floss picks: In my opinion floss picks are the least effective method of flossing, but they are better than not flossing at all. This is due to there not being enough slack for the string to effectively wrap around the curves of the teeth, this results in much of the bacteria remaining on the sides of the teeth. I always recommend alternating the use of picks with another flossing method. Examples: Dentek floss picks, Reach floss picks, Glide, GUM comfort flossers.


Types of string floss:

  • Dental tape: Tape tends to be less likely to shred if you have tight contacts or overhanging restorations. Examples would be Glide dental tape.

  • Expanding floss: Expanding floss is helpful for cleaning under bridges, or cleaning spaces that have a larger gap. Expanding floss is thicker and resembles a thin yarn. It is effective in grabbing more plaque due to its texture. Examples: Super Floss, Coco floss, and burst floss (burst promo code: P18E2Z).

  • Standard floss: Standard string floss comes waxed or unwaxed. It even comes in an elastic form that many patients love. Examples: Dr. Tung's smart floss, glide and reach.

I hope this helps,

~ J


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