Are Floss Picks As Good As Floss?
Are floss picks as good as floss? This is a question I get asked all the time as a dental hygienist. So in a battle of floss, which type wins? Are you a floss picker or do you use the ol’ trusty string floss?
Brushing your teeth can help you to get rid of plaque, but there will still be some plaque left behind. As great as toothbrushes are, they just can’t quite scrape all the gunk off in between the teeth. This is where floss comes in to save the day.
Floss can help you to remove trapped food particles from in between the teeth and removes plaque buildup that is left behind from brushing. Floss can be helpful where a toothbrush can’t reach. According to the CDA if you don’t floss, you are missing more than 1/3 of your tooth’s surface. You can use traditional floss or floss picks.
But the question is what the difference between the two is? Which one is better? Are floss picks as good as floss?
What is Floss?
In both types of flosses, stick floss picks and traditional string floss, there is a presence of a filament of fiber which is coated with wax. The idea behind this is so that it can easily slide between the teeth. There are also some flosses that are made available in unwaxed as well.
In this article, we will try to find out which type of floss is the best.
Traditional floss, also known as “ string dental floss” has a longer history than floss picks. It can help you to get rid of the bacteria between the teeth. It is used where the toothbrush bristles can’t reach. The purpose of floss is to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria between the teeth. Without a doubt string floss is effective, but is it the best floss choice?
Pros of Traditional Floss
- The best thing about traditional floss is the ease of use. It is designed in such a way that everyone can easily use it. It is flexible so it can reach everywhere in the mouth. It can help to ensure a healthy mouth by removing bacteria and germs. It adapts to the curvature of teeth and is easily moved up and down for efficient plaque removal.
Cons of traditional string floss
- The correct process of flossing depends on the person who is doing it. If a person has limited use of fingers and hands, then it can be difficult to control. With traditional floss, it might be difficult to clean all the molars. This is especially true if you have large hands or poor hand dexterity which can aid in trouble getting to the back of the mouth.
Floss picks are usually a small piece of plastic that are either Y shaped or F shaped. Floss picks have an opening where there will be a small piece of floss thread.
The main reason behind choosing floss picks over traditional floss is the ease of use. Reaching to the back of a mouth can be easier with floss picks as compared to traditional floss. Many people say floss picks are more comfortable.
Still, it can be said which one is best because it depends on the person’s situation which works best.
For people with tighter teeth, it would be difficult to use floss picks. In this situation, traditional floss would be good to use. When you are using a floss pick you always need more than one because there is only a tiny amount of floss on each stick.
But the question still remains, are floss picks as good as floss?
Are floss sticks as good as string floss?
When we talk about effectiveness there are mixed thoughts and opinions. Some studies have shown that both can be good when it comes to cleaning between the teeth. In view of some researchers, floss picks are less effective because of their shape. They might not reach all the way around each tooth.
Pros of Floss Picks
- It is a preferred choice for most people because these floss picks are easy to use. These picks are designed specifically to reach those places that are hard to reach with traditional floss. These can easily reach even to the back of the mouth.
- It can remove food particles and bacteria just like regular floss.
Cons of Floss Picks
- Due to its design, it is not possible to clean each tooth properly. So, it will not be easy to thoroughly clean all the way down between the gum line. In such cases, floss picks are not an ideal choice.
- Floss picks can’t always fit into teeth. For tighter teeth, floss picks can create trouble.
Reasons why Floss picks are not a healthy option
Although, floss picks are okay for getting food stuck from in between teeth, are they better than traditional floss? There are lots of reasons why floss picks are not a healthy option. A few main reasons are given below:
- Floss picks are not as easily controlled and can snap down below contact too fast and harm gum tissues
- Since there is only one tiny piece of floss per pick, if you use the same pick in an unhealthy gum pocket, you could spread bad germs around to healthy areas
- Floss picks can’t provide powerful feedback that traditional floss can provide. You need to be conscious of the way the floss glides up and down around the side of each tooth instead of just popping it straight up and down
- The impact of single-use plastic on the environment.
When to Floss?
The most important question is when and how much to floss? Try to floss at least once daily. It is recommended to brush twice a day and floss once a day. Both activities will help to keep your mouth fresh and healthy.
My preferred time to recommend people to floss is before they go to bed. Everything you eat and drink has been on your teeth the entire day. Then you go to bed and sleep for hopefully at least 6-8 hours. So if you brush and floss your teeth before you go to bed then your teeth will remain clean the longest time span of the day. Think about it as your teeth’s recovery time.
Also it is usually safe to note that you are in less of a hurry before you go to bed. In the morning getting ready for the day is usually a rush and even oral care routines get rushed through or even skipped.
So the answer to the question “are floss picks good as floss?” is simply “No”. Floss picks have some limitations. Obviously traditional flossing was the winner but as a dental hygienist, whatever will get you to floss please just use it. There are so many great flossing benefits. Be sure to floss at least once daily for optimal oral health.
Check out my favorite floss to recommend in the BURST floss review!
Kelly Hancock, RDH
Kelly is a registered dental hygienist and oral health care provider. She is passionate about oral hygiene and encourages people to achieve optimal oral health. She has been working in the dental profession for 16 years and worked in many different roles in the dental industry. Kelly is currently a pediatric dental hygienist specializing in children’s dentistry. She is committed to helping others with their oral health care issues and helping others achieve a smile they love.