Dental Floss FAQs

flossingGiven how many different brands and types of floss there are on the market, I can understand how easily someone can become overwhelmed when trying to decide which one to use. While each floss option may have its unique advantages, the short and simple answer is that most will do just fine. When it comes to flossing, it’s not so much what you use, but that you simply use floss often and floss correctly. If you find a floss that you like and find easy and comfortable to use, chances are you will floss more and that’s what good dental care is all about!

Having said that, there are some questions that patients often ask me about flossing and dental floss that I share with you today in an effort to get everyone flossing often and regularly!

Should I floss before or after brushing?

Ideally, it is better to floss first. By doing so, you give the fluoride in your toothpaste the best chance of accessing the tooth surfaces between your teeth as you have already removed built-up plaque and food particles.

How often should I floss?

On average, it takes plaque approximately 24 to 36 hours to harden into tartar (also known as calculus). You want to floss away this plaque so it doesn’t get the opportunity to become tartar. Therefore, at minimum, you should be flossing at least once a day. Twice would be even better!

Is it normal for my gums to bleed when I floss?

If you haven’t flossed in a while, or if you are pregnant, bleeding gums are not an uncommon result of flossing. However, after a few days, if you are still bleeding while flossing, it would be a good idea to consult your dentist about it.

Dental tape vs dental floss… which option is better?

Some people might find tape a little easier to manage. It also doesn’t have the tendency to snap like floss can which makes it a little more comfortable to use. Because the ribbon-like tape glides a little more easily than floss, people with bridgework and sensitive gums should go with this option.

What is Superfloss?

Being the comic book geek that I am, I’d love to say that this is a component of Superman’s dental care arsenal, but truth be told, it’s just a type of floss that us mere mortals can use to access those difficult-to-reach spots in our mouths. Superfloss has stiff ends that make it easier to thread through the small spaces. This is why it’s especially ideal for people with braces or bridges.

What is a floss threader?

Another great tool for getting into hard-to-reach places is a floss threader. We include these in all of our orthodontic patients’ braces care packages. Imagine if you will, a loop. Insert your floss through this loop and you’ll have your floss ready to go to work where it needs to be in no time.

Isn’t waxed dental floss better than non-waxed?

While a research study conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology identified the fact that waxed dental floss is indeed more popular than its non-waxed counterpart, and, that it is believed amongst the majority of flossers that the waxed version is more effective, their research findings have also demonstrated that both in fact do the same job in cleaning teeth. So again, use whatever you find to be most comfortable as chances are that if you like what you’re using, you’ll use it more!

Can I use an irrigation device instead of floss?

While I’m a big fan of irrigation devices such as a “Waterpik”, that pulsate water into the mouth and help dislodge food particles from hard-to-reach places, they are not a replacement for flossing. Use both for best results.

Is it better to go with flavoured or unflavoured floss?

bacon-dental-flossIf a flavoured floss is going to get you to floss more often, then for sure, go for it. Will it affect the end result? Absolutely not. I personally enjoy a mint-flavoured floss but wouldn’t venture into some other flavours that I’ve come across including – would you believe – dill pickle, cupcake, bubble gum, and yes, even bacon-flavoured dental floss!

cupcake_floss_2.fwAnd remember these dental words of wisdom that I share with you today…

“You don’t have to floss all of your teeth — just the ones you want to keep.”

Steven Deskin is a Brantford Dentist in general practice.

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