Ever wonder how Lowcountry Family Dentistry decides on Facebook posts and blog subject matter? Typically our subjects are prompted by several patients asking the same question. If multiple patients have the same question it figures others might have be wondering the same thing. That being said, today’s topic hits closer to home.
Although a dental professional, I am also a mom and wife. As with many married couples, my husband and I were raised a little differently, Despite the fact we both want what’s best for our children and are usually on the same page, there are a few things we debate. One of those debates is whether traditional floss or a floss pick is better for the kids. I’m in the traditional floss camp, and he thinks floss picks work just as well.
In case anyone else wondered this same question and to put our debate to rest, I have done a little research. Below is what I found.
A floss pick is a small plastic tool that has a piece of floss attached to the curved end. Here are some of its main benefits:
- Easy to Use — One of the main advantages of a floss pick is that you don’t have to fuss with gripping a long piece of floss. The tool’s design is easy to handle, making it a whole lot simpler to floss your teeth all the way in the back.
- Double Purpose — The end of a floss pick is tapered into, well, a pick that you can use to dislodge any large pieces of food stuck right near the surface of teeth or even along your gum line.
Here are some of the drawbacks:
- Redistributing Bacteria — Since using a floss pick means using the same section of floss over and over again, it could result in transferring bacteria between different sections of your mouth.
- Environmental Drawback — Some people are not fans of using floss picks because many are single-use plastic products. If you’re trying to minimize your impact on the environment, then you might not love the idea of tossing a floss pick in the trash after each use. Or you might want to consider getting a floss pick with a refillable head.
While string floss may be the traditional way to go, there are plenty of varieties of it. There’s waxed vs. unwaxed floss, not to mention there are different flavored types on the market now, too. Here are some of the advantages of standard floss:
- More Effective — While a pick has a straight piece of floss, traditional floss has the flexibility to conform, bend, and wrap so you can more effectively clean around the curves and other irregularities of your teeth.
- Clean Floss — When using traditional floss, you should be taking a good length (about 18 inches long) so that you can use clean section of the floss for each tooth. Having a clean section prevents the likelihood of bacteria spreading from one area to the next.
Here are some of its disadvantages
- More Difficult to Use — Some people feel like it’s a hassle handling a long piece of floss (such as young kids or those with arthritis), especially when it comes to getting in those hard-to-reach areas in the back of the mouth.
- Can Be Abrasive — If you’re not gentle or careful, or if you have sensitive gums, flossing may cause irritation.
Either option you choose, the important thing is that you making flossing a part of your regular dental routine.
Some studies show that both clean between your teeth really well. Other research suggests floss picks are less effective since their shape can limit their ability to reach below the gum line and all the way around each tooth.
When it comes to dental floss, the tried and true traditional string floss is generally more effective. Using it with proper technique helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth, which prevents bad bacteria from growing. With many different varieties and even flavors, there’s a dental floss for nearly everyone, from children to those with sensitive gums.
Using floss picks is still better than simply forgoing flossing, however. For people who struggle to use traditional floss, like those with very large or arthritic hands, or those who can never seem to reach the very back teeth, floss picks are a great alternative.
Husbands, you can’t live with them, you can’t live without them!
Ashley Covington, DMD