Perhaps, you are in the 40% of Americans who floss daily, the commendable minority who probably also make their bed each morning, go to the gym thrice a week at 7 a.m, and calls their mother every Sunday. The dream team.
For the rest of us, flossing can be quite the chore to remember. But it is an absolutely necessary step to help maintain proper oral health. There are tons of different products designed to make flossing easier, such as floss picks, but not all floss products are created equal.
It’s important to understand that while floss picks are certainly better than not flossing at all if you use them exclusively, you aren’t getting all the benefits of tradition floss.
What are floss picks?
Floss picks are a double-ended, plastic tool with one side resembling a thin end like a toothpick and a horseshoe-shaped end on the other with floss attached to it. Like anything else, this interdental tool comes with some pros and cons:
- Removes large pieces of food in between teeth, especially the posterior ones
- Easier to fit into smaller mouths compared to two sets of fingers and traditional floss
- Plastic handle is good for folks with weak dexterity
- Bow can’t follow the anatomy of a tooth to remove plaque properly from under the gums
- Easy to cause gum trauma by forcing the floss pick between teeth with tight contacts
- Can push plaque further into the gums
- Floss can easily breaks off the pick
So can I use floss picks?
Interproximal stimulation (gently cleaning your gums between teeth) of any sort to help reduce inflammation, which in turn, can cause bleeding while brushing and flossing. However, floss picks aren’t the best at removing the plaque that naturally collects under the gums, and if left undisturbed this plaque can begin to harden and grow towards the top of the tooth. As the plaque hardens, the bacteria that grow underneath the gum line can eventually have periodontal implications.
So while it’s not discouraged to use floss picks, it shouldn’t be the only tool in your bathroom cabinet.
How to use floss picks correctly
We advise patients who use floss picks currently try switching them out for traditional floss. Floss picks are great for removing food from between teeth during the day, they can serve as a good preparatory device. However, they should be followed by traditional flossing.
Not sure how to floss? These instructions from the American Dental Association are a great start.
Looking for advice on floss picks techniques from your friendly dental hygienist? Book an appointment with Virtudent to chat during your next dental cleaning.