Understanding the Different Types of Dental Floss

A lot of patients we speak to about the importance of flossing complain that dental floss does not work for them. Stories of teeth that overlap and of swollen bleeding gums are common. However, there are many choices when it comes to dental floss, and there is an option that will work for everyone.

Each type of dental floss has different advantages. Here are a few things to know about your flossing options:

Unwaxed floss. Unwaxed dental floss is what most people think of as “regular” floss. This type of floss is made of a thin nylon material that fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together. Some people have problems though with unwaxed floss getting into some places, and this floss can often can shred or break.

Waxed floss. Waxed floss is the same material (standard nylon) as regular floss, but it has a wax coating which will make it less likely to break. Some people, however may find it is harder to use in tight spots.

Dental tape. New types of floss include dental tape. This broader and flatter floss comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape easier to use than standard floss.

Polytetrafluorethylene floss. Also known as PTFE, Polytetrafluorethylene floss is the same material used in Gore-Tex fabric. The benefits include an easy slide between the teeth and is not likely to shred or break. People with very tight spaces often favor this type of floss.

Super flosses. For larger spaces, those with braces or dental bridges, super flosses are a good choice. On either end are thicker, and stiffer sections for these special areas and situations.  

Floss picks. Some patients prefer the ease and maneuverability of floss picks—a small amount of floss strung between two plastic ends. Available in a variety of options floss picks make a good choice for people with dexterity problems.

No matter which floss you prefer, the most important thing to remember is to just floss! Proper, regular flossing can help prevent periodontal disease, and other health issues If you have any questions or concerns about flossing or technique, we are happy to assist you during your next cleaning appointment.

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