You have had it drilled into your head your entire life that flossing is important for your oral health. But some people just hate flossing their teeth. After a quick refresher on why flossing is so important, take a look at some alternatives to flossing that can deliver the same results. You may find a new option that you love.
Why Flossing Matters
As a quick refresher, there are plenty of good reasons for using floss. Essentially, you need it to effectively reach and clean the sides of your teeth that are right next to the other teeth. Brushing reaches the top, bottom, and front of your teeth, and flossing lets you get to the two sides as well.
This means that flossing is essential for getting food and other particles out from between your teeth. That’s important because if food stays stuck in your mouth, bacteria can build up, leading to the creation of plaque.
That combination of plaque and bacteria is bad for both your gums and your teeth. If you don’t remove it properly, you can develop gingivitis, a periodontal disease, and cavities on your teeth.
Don’t forget that your overall health is also connected to your oral health. So, if you skip flossing and develop gum disease, it can affect your heart health or other aspects of your overall health.
There’s also the bonus that flossing will help keep your teeth looking clean, giving you a brighter smile.
Like the Idea of Flossing? Try a Different Floss
While the flossing alternatives mentioned below are all great options, you may also want to consider if it is the act of flossing that you dislike or the floss that you are currently using.
Dr. Dhiraj Sharma can recommend a different floss brand that you may like better. For example, if you currently use waxed floss, consider trying unwaxed. Or vice versa. Both styles of floss are just as effective at removing plaque.
Or Try Dental Tape
Another similar option is to opt for dental tape. This is an ideal option if your issue with flossing is because you have slightly larger gaps between your teeth. If that’s the case, flossing may simply not be as effective because the floss is too thin. The tape is a bit wider. That also helps deliver an improved grip between your teeth.
Try Pre-Threaded Floss
Think about the part of flossing that you don’t like. If the problem is wrapping the thread around your fingers in a way that lets you reach your teeth, then you may want to try pre-threaded floss. This is floss that sits on small pre-threaded flossers. They are usually disposable, and they are designed to reduce the strain on your hands as you floss.
Pre-threaded flossers are great for anyone with limited mobility in your hands, as you don’t have to wrap the floss around your hands. You can even use them with just one hand.
These are also a good option for kids who are still learning to floss properly.
Try an Interdental Brush
As the name implies, interdental brushes clean the area between your teeth. This is the exact spot that the floss cleans, making them a good alternative to flossing. This type of brush is very easy to use, even if you have limited mobility in your hands or only have one free hand to use.
They produce the same results you would get from flossing.
While anyone can use interdental brushes, they are especially popular for those with braces. That’s because their design makes it easy to get around the wires to clean between your teeth.
You may also hear these called proxy brushes or tiny flossing brushes.
Try a Dental Pick
A dental pick is a wooden or plastic pick that you use to remove the food and plaque from between your teeth. Ideally, you want to use a plastic pick, but if you use a wooden one, you should make it softer by wetting it first.
Just keep in mind that compared to the other options on this list, this method is not quite as effective. There is a big risk that you will just accidentally move bacteria to a different area of your mouth, especially if you don’t swap your pick for a new one after each tooth. Given how impractical it would be to swap that many times, few people will do that.
Try a Soft-Pick
Another popular single-use alternative to flossing is a soft pick. These essentially combine the idea of a dental pick with an interdental brush. They are plastic picks that have rubbery bristles as well as the soft tips. You can comfortably fit them between your teeth to let the bristles clean the area thoroughly.
As with pre-threaded floss, they also offer the advantage of only requiring one hand to use.
Try Water Flossing
Water flossing is an excellent alternative to flossing. You will need a specialized water flosser to do this. It will be a small appliance that you hold in your hand. Most people find the water flosser to be more comfortable to hold than traditional floss.
The idea behind water flossing is simple. You aim the steady stream of water between your teeth, and doing so clears away the plaque.
The only downside of this is that you will have an up-front investment. However, unlike many of the other options on this list, you won’t have continual costs. After all, both soft-picks and pre-threaded floss are disposable. That means you will have a constant cost and produce more waste.
As a bonus, water flossers are also great at removing plaque by your gumline, supplementing your brushing in that area.
Try an Air Flosser
Although they are still a newer option, air flossers are definitely worth considering. They rely on airflow to clean your teeth, much like a water flosser relies on water flow. While air flossers work well for most people, they are especially good at removing plaque stuck between teeth that are closer together.
Both water flossers and air flossers are also sometimes called oral irrigators.
If you have more questions about flossing or are looking to schedule your regular dental appointment, reach out to our dentist in Palo Heights for more information.