Types of Floss
Dental floss comes in a range of thicknesses, materials, colors and even flavors. As a general rule, the thinner the floss, the more easily it will glide through the tooth contacts. Wax is added to some flosses to aid in passing tight contacts. Also available are teflon tapes and super-flosses for flossing under bridges. There are even mechanical flossers which do most of the work for you. Visit any drug store to see the vast array of tools available to you or talk to your hygienist when you are visiting us for your dental cleaning.
For Those with Special Needs
As mentioned, electric or mechanical flossers are available if you do not have the dexterity, finger movement, patience, or tolerance for fingers in their mouths. Alternatively, you can try tying the floss into a tiny loop on either end, making it easier to grasp and control the floss with your fingers.
While there are alternatives to flossing, they do not come close to being as effective in controlling the effects of plaque. However, there are some people who need a “something is better than nothing” alternative.
The water pick, or irrigator, can be used to debris the tooth of large particles of food and plaque. A water pick uses powerful bursts of water to remove food particles and other debris in hard-to-reach areas of your mouth. Studies have shown that consistent water pick use can decrease gum tissue irritation and inflammation, but does not actually reduce the amount of bacteria present. It is therefore better as an adjunct to flossing than as a replacement. It can be ideal for someone with braces where food can get caught in the brace mechanism.
Antibacterial rinses are somewhat effective (see section on Mouth Rinse for more information). Despite claims that Listerine is as good as flossing, there is no substantiated scientific evidence to support that claim. Listerine has been shown to be bactericidal (bacteria killing) but it has limited effect on plaque build-up.