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Floss Picks vs. Standard Dental Floss: Which Is Better?

Every time you visit your dentist, he or she will likely ask if you’re flossing regularly. After all, regular flossing is an essential element of proper oral hygiene, as it removes food particles stuck between teeth that brushing can’t.

If you use dental floss daily, you are actively preventing plaque buildup and tooth decay.

If you’re a daily flosser and you have to choose between floss picks vs floss, which one would you prefer? Let’s take a closer look at both flossing options.

How To Floss By Electric Teeth

What You Need To Know About Traditional Floss

Regular floss is one continuous thread usually made of nylon spooled inside a plastic container. The types of standard floss available today include:

  • Unwaxed Floss: Made of thin nylon strands, unwaxed and unflavored floss is easier to handle because it doesn’t slip from your grip. If your teeth are closely pressed together, unwaxed floss would be an excellent option because it fits nicely into tight spaces. It does tend to break or shred, though.
  • Waxed Floss: The light wax coating makes this standard nylon floss slide more easily between teeth. Sturdier than the unwaxed version, waxed floss may also come in flavors like mint or cinnamon.
  • Dental tape: Also referred to as ribbon tape, dental tape is much broader and flatter than your average dental floss. Available in waxed and unwaxed varieties, dental tape is often preferred by people with wider spaces between their teeth.
  • Polytetrafluorethylene floss (PTFE): This is Teflon floss, which users can easily slide between their teeth.

To use traditional floss, you will need to break off about 18 inches of it, wind the ends securely around your fingers, and work it between each tooth to remove food particles and prevent bacteria buildup. Proper flossing technique requires that you work in between both sides of the tooth and under the gum line.

Standard dental floss is generally effective at its job, although using it can get tricky. Since you have to use a clean section of floss for each tooth, your fingers have to be skilled enough to unwrap a new, unused segment as you go. If you have large fingers or arthritic ones, this part of the flossing task can also be challenging.

Complaints of pain and bleeding are also common among users, especially those who get a bit too enthusiastic flossing their teeth.

Reaching the back of the mouth can prove to be difficult as well. And if you have braces, there’s always the risk of the floss getting stuck in its metalwork.

There’s also the issue surrounding Teflon flosses, as they contain harmful chemicals.

Facts About Floss Picks

As the name suggests, a floss pick is a small plastic device, but with a small piece of floss pre-threaded between two posts.

If asked who wins a floss picks vs floss battle, many people will likely side with the former because they are so much easier to use. No winding and unwinding around fingers are required. All they have to do is hold the floss pick by the plastic handle, and they’re good to go.

Each floss pick is also long enough to reach further back into your mouth and clean between the teeth there.

Floss picks, however, are not without their disadvantages.

The way floss picks are designed makes it tougher to floss according to the proper technique.

Since a single floss pick only has a very short nylon strand, it forces you to use the same segment on different parts of your mouth, thereby elevating the risk of redistributing bacteria and particles.

The Verdict

Given that proper flossing technique is crucial to the effective removal of food particles and plaque from between teeth, traditional floss naturally has it over floss picks.

Still, floss picks are a much better option than not flossing at all. Proper oral hygiene requires flossing, and we all should work to take food particles and plaque out from between our teeth, regardless of whether we use a piece of standard floss string or a floss pick. In a floss picks vs floss fight, everyone’s a winner if we choose to use either of them on a daily basis.

Frequently Asked Questions

✅ Can Waterpik replace flossing?

Waterpik is a water flosser or oral irrigator brand that sprays a pressurized stream of water to remove food particles from between your teeth. The fact that Waterpik product lines have the American Dental Association or ADA Seal of Acceptance means they can get rid of plaque. With its ability to remove food particles and plaque, Waterpik can potentially replace traditional flossing.

✅ Should I floss or Waterpik first?

It’s always best to floss first to scrape off food debris and plaque, then flush all of them away with Waterpik.

✅ Is it better to floss twice a day?

The ADA recommends cleaning between teeth with floss once a day, but it’s okay to floss more than once a day as long as you’re doing it correctly.

✅ Is flossing every day really necessary?

The recommendation to floss once a day comes from the ADA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Surgeon General, and many other organizations and experts. However, it’s true that, to this day, there is no definitive proof of the long-term benefits of flossing. Most existing studies are short-term, and they generally conclude that flossing after brushing reduces one’s risk of gingivitis.

✅ Why do your gums bleed when you floss?

There are several reasons your gums bleed during flossing, and they often point to a need to floss more often. Plaque buildup between the teeth and along the gum line can cause bleeding gums. The same goes for vitamin deficiencies. When plaque forms on top of calculus or tartar, it might lead to gingivitis, which counts bleeding gums when brushing or flossing among its symptoms.

✅ What happens if you never floss?

If you forgo flossing, food particles will accumulate between your teeth, and plaque, which is sticky bacteria in film form, will thrive there. With all that bacteria hanging out in your mouth, it would only be a matter of time before cavities start popping up. Gingivitis is also a common consequence of not flossing.

✅ Does flossing create gaps in teeth?

Flossing, by itself, does not necessarily cause gaps between teeth, although it could feel that way sometimes. What causes gaps between teeth when flossing is flossing mistakes, like when you do it so vigorously you cut your gums.

✅ Why does my floss smell like poop?

When your floss smells that bad after use, then the food particles you have removed from your teeth have already been there for more than 24 hours, and are already rotting. When bacteria eat the food particles stuck between your teeth, the process produces toxins and sulfur gas, which is what you’re smelling after every flossing.

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