A Hygienist’s Guide to Choosing the Right Floss
By Annie Lutterman R.D.H.
Let’s admit it; when it comes to flossing, we have options. In fact, we have several choices that may cause one to become confused on the mosh pit of different floss varieties. For most, flossing is a chore all in itself. Wouldn’t you want to know you are using the kind that is most beneficial for your teeth? When you walk down the dental aisle at the store, you will see that is home to numerous products meant to make a mouth healthy. Where do you start? Which product is best for you? I’m choosing to write this article to help select the type of floss that meets your individual needs.
“I have really tight teeth!” Very commonly I notice that a patient’s main reason for not flossing is because their teeth are so tight that the floss shreds/breaks easily. In this case, I recommend dental floss that is moderately to heavily waxed. Wax allows the floss to glide though tight contacts easily while removing anything below the gum surface. When using waxed floss, it is important to remember to use a different segment of floss between each interproximal space. For example, if you aren’t rotating your segment of floss, it may slide though easily on one tooth and when you move it to the next tooth, it shreds- Most of the wax was used on that first contact, therefore when you used the same piece, it was basically wax-less. If your teeth are ‘snaggy’ and tight, waxless equals worthless. I like Oral- B Glide Pro Health floss.
“I always have to floss the same tooth 10 times just to get food out!” This is also a very familiar situation for a hygienist to encounter when discussing floss options. Typically, someone who complains of food-trapping areas cannot seem to keep certain spaces free of debris and should be using thicker floss. Generally, if you are trapping food than it is likely you have extra spacing between your teeth. When you floss a tooth that has more room between contacts, there is naturally more room for food to get stuck. Thicker floss is meant to grab more plaque/debris between the teeth because it covers more area while being in the interproximal space. When you cover more ground, the less you have to sweep through. I like Johnson & Johnson Reach Gum Care- Mint Woven floss.
“I have too many crowns and rough, catchy areas to get floss though!” It is true that someone with several restorations such as crowns, fillings, and bridges might have a tougher time flossing routine than others. Need not despair! Dental tape is here to the rescue! Dental tape is formulated to wince over rough edges and rough margins while still getting to the depth of the gums pocket to remove plaque/food left-overs. Its’ stretchy and textured band allows a seamless glide between tight teeth with crowns and other restorations. I like Johnson and Johnson Reach Total Care.
“I just don’t do floss at all.” This is a common comment I hear often in the hygiene profession. Sometimes no matter how hard you try, your fingers are just too big to get to the back of your mouth. Maybe you just can’t get the hang of wrapping the floss though your fingers without them turning purple! Sometimes the angulation of the floss to your teeth leaves you wrapped up like a spider web. In this situation, I suggest picking up a good pack of floss picks- There are several different types/brands to adapt to the shape of your mouth- Generally speaking, floss picks are the most convenient way to floss. This is also a great product to pick up if you need to floss on-the-go. Floss picks are shaped like a plastic toothpick that has a pre-threaded band on one end. This is meant to squeeze between all teeth- Whether they are in the far back or just a tighter spot. I like Plackers Twin- Line Flossers.
To sum it up, everyone is different. Different mouths call for different measures. I know that for most patients, dental care isn’t considered ‘fun’. (Even though I think it is.) Nonetheless, I’ve discovered there are several ways to make your job easier at home, and in turn, making my job easier when you come in for check-ups! Happy flossing!