Your dentist will always remind you to brush and floss. Most people brush their teeth, but a 2016 study found that only about 1/3rd of Americans actually floss every day!
People avoid flossing for many reasons: it’s inconvenient, it’s too much work. But with a variety of flossing tech now available, those excuses hold less and less weight. Today we’ll talk about why flossing matters and three major types of floss in the hopes of putting those excuses to rest.
Why Does Flossing Matter?
First, a basic review: why is it so important to floss?
Brushing your teeth is very effective and removes a lot of plaque. But the nature of a toothbrush means that its bristles can only go so deep; they’re great for the exposed surfaces of your teeth, but struggle to get the little spaces in between where plaque likes to hide.
Because floss goes between your teeth, it removes stubborn plaque buildup much more effectively than brushing alone. And it matters a lot: plaque not only causes all manner of gum and tooth disease, but has even been linked to heart problems.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about three common types of floss!
Your garden variety, old-school floss is typically made of nylon thread and comes in waxed or unwaxed varieties. As the thinnest variety of floss, it’s great for tightly spaced teeth. It’s also typically the most cost effective, and offers a non-slip grip.
However, the simplicity and affordability of this kind of floss means it can also fray easily (less so with waxed varieties.) Certain flavored waxes, such as mint or cinnamon, may also be off-putting to some people.
Dental tape is very similar to traditional floss: it’s skinny, comes in a little box on a reel, and you hook it around your teeth. But unlike nylon floss, dental tape is made of a material that is, well, tape-like. This gives it a flat, wide shape that covers more surface area. The material is also less irritating for sensitive gums.
Dental tape is more expensive than nylon floss, and that wide shape also means it’s difficult to work into very tightly-spaced teeth.
A cutting-edge piece of technology, water flossers abandon actual floss altogether and instead use a highly pressurized jet of water to remove debris between your teeth. This means no environmental waste and much less irritation.
There is one significant drawback: water flossers simply aren’t as effective as regular floss. The water can’t scrape your teeth as effectively as regular floss. But for picky flossers (like kids) or for people with sensitive gums, they can be a solid choice.