Dental Floss: The Floss FAQs – Why? What? How?

the dental place

Why do we floss?

floss the dental place
floss the dental place

Flossing in between your teeth removes food crumbs that have been left behind after eating and helps stops tooth decay. Using floss also removes plaque and bacteria build up. By forgetting to floss bacteria may build up and cause gum and tooth problems. Whilst toothbrushes do a great job of cleaning teeth, they are not able to effectively get into all the spaces in between teeth, making flossing a necessity.

The American Dental Association reports that up to 80% of plaque can be eliminated through flossing. And The Dental Place, Reservoir agrees.

What are the different types of floss?

According to Oral B, on their website,:

“[…] researchers have compared different types of dental floss to determine whether some are more effective than others to clean teeth. The bottom line is that they are not. Any type of floss will help promote clean teeth by removing food particles and bacteria.”

This means that the type of floss you choose should be the one that you find easiest to use and most effective.

The most common type of floss is the string type.

String floss comes in small boxes in varying lengths. This type can be waxed or non-waxed, and can come in various flavours (usually in varying mint flavours or may be unflavoured).  The waxed type can be slipped between the teeth very easily, and sometimes has an anti-bacterial agent built into it. The non-waxed type does not slide between teeth as easily, but is just as effective. Some individuals preferred this type of floss. The flavoured varieties have no further benefit other than to provide a fresh taste in the mouth.

Another variety is the floss pick.

Floss picks are a plastic arm with a piece of floss attached. They are able to be manoeuvred with one hand, but they can also be a bit more difficult to get into your gums properly and reach your back teeth with. If you get sore hands when using string floss, picks may be a good option. Another type of floss pick has a plastic handle and a brush-like end which reaches deeply between your teeth. This variety comes in many sizes, one of which will fit your teeth perfectly.

For the more advanced flosser, an oral irrigator may be a good option (also called a dental water jet).

This is a home care device that uses a stream of pulsing water to remove plaque and food from between teeth and below the gumline to improve gum health. The oral irrigator has a water tank that connects to a device somewhat like a toothbrush. To use an oral irrigator properly, you should lean over the sink and place the device in your mouth. The device is then switched on (with closed lips to prevent splashing), directing the pulsing water at the tip of each tooth just above the gumline at a 90 degree angle. Allow the water to flow from your mouth back into the sink. Pause briefly between teeth. The entire process only takes a minute or two.

If you are unsure about which type of floss to use, come and talk to us at The Dental Place.

How to floss properly using string floss

  • Pull out approximately 45cm of floss and wind it around your two pointer fingers, leaving about 10cm to actively work with
  • Insert the floss between your teeth and pull it gently up and down along each tooth edge
  • Curve the floss around each tooth
  • Be sure to go below your gumline, but be gentle, as excess force can cause damage and bleeding
  • Repeat in between all teeth, including your back teeth
  • When you get build-up on the floss, re-wind around your pointer fingers to expose fresh floss, or grab a new piece if you’ve used the entire string

It is advised to floss at least once a day. Are you?

Want to know more? Try here for even more information.

For some fun uses of floss that don’t involve your teeth, have a look at this US dentist page:

Scroll to Top