Thursday, December 5, 2013
The Ins and Outs of Dental Floss
We are told to brush and floss daily, but then we get to the market or pharmacy and we are met with an aisle of different flosses to choose from. Which one is best?
First of all let’s discuss why floss. When you floss you run a fibrous string between your teeth that cleans away the plaque your toothbrush misses. “It’s a critical component to your daily homecare regimen,” says Dr. Judith Ko from her Hemet Valley California Dental Practice. So flossing daily is important.
While there are numerous floss choices available, the best one is probably based more on personal preference than any other reason. In other words, you may find some flosses are more comfortable or taste better than others.
There are generally two types of flosses available: 1) Multifilament floss (ex: nylon or silk), and 2) Monofilament floss (ex: rubber, plastic or polytetrafluoroethylene).
Nylon floss is the most common floss used – it’s been used around for a long time and tends to be the least costly. This nylon floss can be waxed or un-waxed. The choice between waxed and un-waxed is again about personal preference. Some patients have reported liking the feel of the waxed, while others prefer un-waxed. Dental tape is also made of nylon and is basically a wide, flat ribbon of floss. Many people find, because the ribbon is thinner, that dental tape is easier to use and it is often recommended as a “starter floss.”
Other people like to use the monofilament floss as it seems to glide more easily between teeth. (Often the word glide is used in the name of this floss.) It is a new type of floss and, unlike nylon, doesn’t rip or tear. Monofilament flosses don’t need wax.
Both types of floss come in a variety of flavors as well as thicknesses. The flavor is again about personal preference, but the thickness matters. “Use a floss that goes easily between your teeth and doesn’t snap against the tissue when it goes through,” says Dr. Ko. “Dentists routinely get asked about dental floss,” adds Dr. Ko. “Most patients want to know which one is the best to use. My answer is pretty standard – the one you WILL use daily.” The American Dental Association agrees: “It’s not what type of floss you use, but how and when you use it.”
So brush, floss and smile!