When it comes to dental floss, what's the best kind? Well, if you ask me, the best dental floss is the floss you'll actually use. That could be Teflon floss, dental tape, nylon floss, waxed floss, floss with or without flavors - there are a lot of choices! As long as you use it, I like it! There are also a number of ways to clean between your teeth that don't have you wrapping a long string of floss across your fingers and deftly maneuvering your hands in such an enclosed space. Enter the oral irrigator, the vibrating flosser, the inter-proximal brush, and the dental pick! Which might be best for you?
- Dental Pick: If you're prone to ignore flossing, you may want to consider a good old-fashioned dental pick. You've no doubt seen these before (sometimes cast aside on the sidewalk!)...they look like a plastic toothpick with a strand of dental floss strapped across a wide u-shaped tip. The simplicity and compact nature of these portable floss "picks" seem to add to their convenience, and kids seem to love them when they're first learning to floss. We'll bet you can find at least one colleague in your office who has a few in their purse or desk for those moments when lunch lingers on the teeth a bit longer than appreciated! This is my favorite floss alternative as it is still FLOSS. (The other methods we will discuss below aren't so much an alternative to flossing as they are an adjunct to flossing.) If you want to give these a try without committing to a Costco-sized bag, ask our hygienist for a sample at your next dental cleaning appointment.
- Electric Flossers: Depending on the brand, electric flossers are known by a variety of names, and searching for these handy little devices can be somewhat maddening online (trust us!). You may be best just wandering into the drug store or supermarket to explore in person! There are vibrating flossers, power flossers, and air flossers. Picking the one that's right for you depends on the task at hand. Power flossers and air flossers seem best if you're dealing with space concerns near the gum line, and may be a good substitute for an interproximal toothbrush. A vibrating flosser, on the other hand, looks much like a dental pick and because of its design, can cover the entire length of the tooth. Just be careful not to get too aggressive with these! The next time you're here at our Sioux Falls dentist office, ask which is best for you.
- Oral Irrigator: An oral irrigator is a device that uses a pulsating stream of water to remove plaque and food debris the gum line. There are a variety of instruments on the market, and we can recommend one based on the health of your gum tissue and budget. Oral irrigators are remarkably effective at keeping gum tissue healthy, and have been shown to reduce pocket depth due to periodontitis. "Pocket depth" refers to the depth of the gum tissue that immediately surrounds your teeth. You may not know it, but that's what your hygienist is testing for when poking that instrument in your mouth during an exam and calling out numbers! While these are a great help to those suffering from gum disease, these are not a replacement to floss because they may not dislodge food and plaque from the tight spaces between your teeth.
It's worth noting that each of these devices, while recommended, should be considered as supplements to normal flossing - which is still your best choice. But, if you have dexterity concerns, are purchasing something for a youngster, or just want to ensure your teeth are the cleanest they can be, these tools are great options!