Flossing every day is as important as maintaining regular brushing habits, yet half the population of Australia fails to do it. Cavities can build up easily between teeth, which can dramatically increase the chance of developing gum disease. Most bad breath is also linked to a lack of flossing, which comes from bits of food trapped between your teeth.
Now that we’ve acknowledged the importance of daily flossing, we can explore the wide range of dental floss products available and proper flossing technique.
Waxed and Unwaxed Floss
Most of us are familiar with the traditional kind of stringed floss. These come in a variety of designs with minor differences in features, including waxed and unwaxed as well as flavoured floss. Dental floss is typically made from nylon and packaged with a substantial length strung up in a roll.
Many people associate waxed floss with higher quality and better performance, but it doesn’t necessarily have a better result. The effectiveness of flossing is determined more by your flossing technique. Waxed floss offers a slick coating, which some people believe, makes it easier to slide the floss between your teeth.
Waxed floss also tends to be more durable, helping to access awkward angles, tight spaces and sharp corners in the teeth. It’s also popular for those with braces, as the metal fixtures are less likely to snap the string. On the other hand, some people find the slippery texture of waxed floss to be harder to grip tightly.
Those who find the rubbery taste of floss unpleasant can find flavoured varieties (typically mint) to enhance their flossing experience.
Dental floss can also come threaded onto a pick. These look similar to toothbrushes with an F or C-shaped head on the end of a handle. Floss picks are popular with people who have difficulty using string. The floss is pulled tightly onto the pick so it doesn’t require a tight grip and can be used with one hand.
Many people also find floss picks make it easier to reach into the deeper areas of the mouth. The main disadvantage is that it isn’t as effective as regular floss. When you floss your teeth, you should be curving the string in a ‘C’ shape around each tooth for a complete clean.
Piksters / Interdental Brushes
Piksters are an increasingly popular tool that can be used as an alternative to flossing. They are small cylindrical brushes with lateral bristles that spring out to clean areas between teeth. Like floss picks, they can be used with one hand, making it easier to use.
Piksters have plastic coated wire, allowing for a thorough clean without scratching the enamel on teeth or damaging any implants you may have. They come in a variety of sizes, which are used for different areas of the mouth.
It is important to note that Piksters can only be used where there is a gap in between teeth. The majority of people will have no gaps in between teeth as gaps are usually caused by loss of teeth, missing teeth or gum disease. Thus interdental brushes are only suitable in certain situations. When there is a gap in between teeth, interdental brushes can clean the area better than flossing alone.
Ultimately the choice of floss comes down to personal preference. As long as your technique is good, flossing daily will be effective.
How to floss properly:
- Use about 30cm of floss and wind it tightly around your two pointer fingers, leaving a few centimetres to floss with
- Gently slide the floss up and down between your teeth and be sure to go below the gum line (don’t force it, though – this may cause damage and result in bleeding)
- Curve the floss into a ‘C’ shape around each tooth for a thorough clean
- Use a new section of floss as you go, as food/plaque debris builds up on the floss
In addition to flossing, you should also visit your dentist on a regular basis for a professional clean and check up.
If you need dental services in Cannon Hill and Morningside, visit My Dentist at Cannon Hill. We offer a relaxing, family friendly environment with the highest standards of care. Book an appointment online or call us on 07 3902 1023.