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floss picks and dental tools

The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends flossing as an integral part of maintaining a healthy mouth. However, there’s often a debate between traditional dental floss and floss picks.

I’m no dentist but I wrote this article with the curiosity of it as a father. We use floss picks for my son and they work like a charm. I’ve also only used them on occasion as I enjoy regular flossing the old-school way, with a few inches of floss wrapped around my fingers. 

My article aims to provide a simple comparison to help you understand their differences, advantages, and disadvantages. Both methods are designed to remove food particles and plaque buildup from the spaces between your teeth and along the gum line.

However, their effectiveness can vary depending on individual needs and proper technique. Especially if your child is too young, using a small piece of floss the traditional way might prove difficult. In that case, a small child-size floss pick with help greatly. 

Different Kinds of Floss

traditional dental floss

Traditional Dental Floss

Traditional dental floss has been the go-to solution for decades. It comes in different types including waxed, unwaxed, and dental tape. All are designed to suit various individual preferences and needs.

How does it work?

To use traditional dental floss, you break off a piece, usually about 18 inches long, and wind it around your fingers. You then gently work it between your teeth and along the gum line. The floss should be moved in a “C” shape around each tooth, ensuring that you use a new, clean segment of floss for each tooth.

Advantages of Traditional Floss

  1. Effectiveness: With the correct technique, traditional floss is highly effective at removing plaque and food particles from between the teeth, preventing the growth of harmful bacteria.
  2. Variety: Traditional floss comes in many different varieties and even flavors, providing options for nearly everyone.
  3. Control: Regular dental floss allows you to control the pressure and movement, reducing the risk of injuring your gums.

Disadvantages of Traditional Floss

Traditional floss can be tricky for some people to manipulate. It requires dexterous fingers to unwrap a new section of floss for each tooth, and it can be challenging to reach the crevices at the back of the mouth. Some people also find traditional floss to be too harsh on their gums, causing discomfort and bleeding.

Using this standard dental floss will be tricky for young kids to do by themselves. Also, not very sanitary if the parents use their own fingers to help floss their child.

Floss Picks

Floss picks, flosser picks, or dental picks are newer kinds of interdental cleaners that have gained popularity due to their convenience. These picks are the best way to reach the back teeth. 

How do they work?

A floss pick is a small, plastic device with a piece of dental floss pre-threaded through the opening. Like traditional floss, floss picks should be worked gently between the teeth in the same manner, to help loosen and remove plaque and food particles.

Advantages of Dental Floss Picks

  1. Ease of Use: The plastic handle of a floss pick makes it easier to hold, eliminating the need to wind and unwind sections of floss around the fingers. This floss type is great to have during your child’s flossing routine. 
  2. Accessibility: Floss picks allow for better access to the teeth at the back of the mouth.
  3. Portability: Floss picks are portable and easy to stash in a purse or desk drawer, making them great for on-the-go flossing.

Disadvantages of Floss Picks

Despite their convenience, floss picks have their drawbacks. Their design makes it challenging to use the proper technique throughout the mouth, particularly working in between both sides of the tooth and under the gum line. Also, using a single pick for the entire mouth can redistribute particles and bacteria from one part of the mouth to another.

Water Flossers

My wife swore by these years back when she had braces put in. But, in recent years she has stopped using it because it’s too big and noisy. Water flossers are a recent addition to the interdental cleaning toolkit. They use a pulsing stream of water to clean between the teeth and along the gum line, making them particularly helpful for those with mobility issues or braces.

How do they work?

Water flossers generate a pulsing stream of water that is directed between the teeth and along the gum line to dislodge and flush away food particles and plaque.

Advantages of a Water Pick

  1. Ease of Use: Like floss picks, water flossers are easy to use, especially for those with mobility issues.
  2. Efficiency: Water flossers can be more efficient at removing plaque and food particles, particularly for those with braces.

Disadvantages of Water Flossers

While water flossers can be highly effective, they are typically more expensive than traditional dental floss or floss picks. Some people may also find them messier to use and bulky.

Which One to Choose?

The best flossing method depends on your individual needs and preferences. Traditional dental floss is generally more effective when used correctly. However, for people who struggle to use traditional floss, floss picks or water flossers may be a great alternative.

The most important thing is to remember to floss regularly, whether you choose traditional floss, floss picks, or water flossers. Consistent interdental cleaning is the key to maintaining good oral hygiene and healthy teeth. Consult your dentist or dental hygienist to determine the best method for your individual needs.

To Dental Health!

So, who wins the battle?  Dental floss vs floss picks, sorry there’s no one-size-fits-all winner. The best floss for you depends on your individual needs and circumstances. While traditional dental floss may provide a more thorough clean, floss picks offer convenience and ease of use. No matter which type of floss you choose, the main goal is to maintain good oral hygiene, keep your teeth healthy, and prevent tooth decay.

Always remember to use a new piece of floss or a new floss pick for each flossing session, and ensure you’re using the proper technique to get the best results.

If you’re a parent I highly suggest using the best floss pick you can find. You can ask your dentist for details but don’t overthink it. Look at the picture above, those are the picks we use at home for my 7-year-old son. They have cute small plastic handles and different zoo animal shapes.

The convenience of floss picks with a younger child can’t be overstated. Get ’em now and make flossing a fun part of your child’s daily routine. 

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