The Nitty Gritty on Floss

Flossing is just as important as brushing your teeth. And like toothbrushes, there are different types of floss. Which is the right floss for you? We’re going to break down the differences between types of flosses and give some tips on how best to use this important dental tool.


Waxed vs. Unwaxed

The biggest decision you have to make when it comes to floss is whether or not to use waxed or unwaxed. The choice is completely up to you and each has their own pros and cons, but the main determining factor seems to be tooth spacing.

Those with tightly positioned teeth tend to prefer unwaxed floss. It is thinner than waxed floss and can therefore more easily slip in between tightly packed teeth. The downside to unwaxed floss is its tendency to break and shred.

People with more space between their teeth prefer waxed floss. Since they don’t need to worry about needing a thin floss to get into tight spaces, they can afford to use the thicker, more durable waxed version. Waxed floss also has the added benefit of less friction as it moves across your teeth and gums.


Unwaxed Nylon vs. Polytetrafluoroethylene

That’s right, we said polytetrafluoroethylene, also known as PTFE. Your typical floss (waxed and unwaxed) is made from nylon, whereas PTFE floss is made from the same material as high-tech rain gear like Gore-Tex. When used as a floss, PTFE is great for tightly packed teeth AND is less prone to breakage. For those with tightly packed teeth, the choice is between unwaxed nylon or PTFE, and this comes down to personal preference – some prefer the feel of one over the other.


Waxed Nylon vs. Dental Tape

We discussed the reasons why those with wider spaces between their teeth prefer waxed floss. Dental tape, a broader, flatter alternative to floss, is also great for loosely spaced teeth. Again, the choice here is personal preference with regard to what feels better.


Proper Flossing Technique

Here’s a short video on proper flossing technique in case you need a refresher.


How you floss is very important, so let’s review proper techniques and common mistakes. 

DO use an arm’s length of floss. Any shorter and you won’t have enough to cover all of your teeth.

DO wrap 6 inches of floss around your middle fingers and use them to control the movement of the floss.

DO move the floss in an up-and-down motion between where the tooth and gum meet to remove food particles.

DO use a new and clean section of floss each time you move in between two new teeth.

DO floss once a day.

DON’T slide floss lengthwise between your teeth, as this could injure your gums.

DON’T move floss in an overly aggressive manner. Pushing too hard or flossing too fast won’t remove any more bacteria than flossing gently and could harm your gums.

DON’T skip days – make sure you floss every day!


Flossing with Braces

Having braces is no excuse for a lax attitude toward flossing, but having orthodontics does make it more difficult to floss successfully. For those with braces, we recommend using waxed floss with a floss threader. Use the threader to pull the floss between the wire of your braces and your teeth, then floss between your teeth as you would normally. Remove the floss and repeat this process with the next two teeth.

Unfortunately, you’ll have to floss this way for every space between your teeth, top and bottom. But remember, the benefits are worth it – a happy healthy smile once your braces are taken off!

Still have flossing questions? Give us a call at 207-781-5900 – we’re happy to help!