Patients at Boulder Dental Arts always want to know which type of floss is the best. My answer is, whichever floss you’re actually going to use! You can purchase the most high-end expensive floss on the market, but if you’re never going to use it, it does you no good. Mouths come in all shapes and sizes so finding the right type of interproximal tool is key for eliminating plaque buildup and bleeding gums. Flossing isn’t your only option, although it is still the best bet, read on to learn about all your interproximal care options.
So What is “Interproximal Care”?
Interproximal care is the removal of plaque in the spaces between teeth that are not accessible through normal brushing. Plaque is a sticky but removable biofilm consisting of a sugary, starchy, acidic matrix. The bacteria that exist within this biofilm are responsible for caries (tooth decay), gingivitis and periodontal disease. When plaque remains in between the teeth it can cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed. This is mainly due to toxins excreted from the bacteria existing within the plaque biofilm. If plaque remains undisturbed for a period of time, minerals within our saliva mix with the sticky matrix causing it to harden, creating calculus (tartar).
With Classic String Floss There Are Lots of Options!
Not all flosses are created equal. You can find waxed, non-waxed, expanding, “tape” and the list goes on but those just mentioned cover the basic types. Waxed floss is great at removing plaque because the wax coating allows for adhesion of the biofilm to the floss. This type is great for normal or wider spaces but not so great for teeth with tight contact. Non-waxed is also great at removing plaque but has a tendency to shred easily between tight spaces and crown margins. Expanding floss is superior at plaque removal but like the others, works best for normal and wider contacting teeth. For those with tight contacts a “tape” or “teflon” style floss works best. In contrast, the teflon style floss is not recommended for normal or wide spaces due to its inability to successfully remove plaque in a wider space as it tends to glide right over it.
Do Floss Picks Work as Well as String Floss?
Picks work great for “on the go” flossing. When you aren’t in an appropriate place to whip out your string floss, after a meal out or maybe when you’re feeling the strong desire to floss your teeth randomly, floss picks work great. The downside to floss picks is that they aren’t able to articulate around the teeth as well as string floss. Picks would be perfect if our teeth were square pegs, but alas, our teeth are not.
Brushes are wonderful for triangular or wide spaces between teeth or for wire and bracket orthodontics. The bristles are able to brush areas that regular toothbrushes can not access. Brushes are typically too large to fit behind a wire retainer bar so the next best option for those would be Superfloss.
What if I HATE Flossing? Maybe try a Waterpik
While the waterpik isn’t an exact replacement for flossing it is a wonderful option for many people. If you HATE flossing and simply can’t bring yourself to wrap that little string around your finger anymore, the waterpik might be a great option for you. The thin water jet flushes out food, plaque and bacteria from between the teeth, as well as, below the gums. It is great for people that have implants, bridges, crowns or have restrictions with your dexterity. This product is often recommended for people who battle with periodontal disease. Most brands have either a tank style or a cordless model (preferred).
Finding the correct interproximal tool can be tricky so if you are still unsure about which would work best for you, ask us at your next visit! Need a tutorial on string floss? Our Boulder Dental Arts staff would be happy to share our tricks and tips with you. Ready to schedule your next appointment at Boulder Dental Arts? Click here to contact a member of our team!