A thin filament for removing dental plaque and food debris from in between teeth is called dental floss. The floss is inserted in between teeth and in a saw movement, moved up, then down away from the gum line, removing the accumulated plaque. As these areas are hard to clean with a tooth brush, the use of dental floss provides the best alternative.
Flossing should be done at least once daily before brushing as part of maintaining Oral hygiene and in an effort of preventing halitosis-bad odour and gingivitis.
A lot of different types of dental floss distinguished by their varying thicknesses exist as below;
- Ultra Floss; best suited for people with varying spaces between teeth. This is because it can stretch thin to fit through tight spaces and can relax to being slightly thick for slightly wider spaces.
- Flossing Picks; floss can sometimes hurt when wrapped around a finger or may not be effective for removing floss from the back teeth. In such a case, Flossing Picksare recommended.
- Waxed Floss; People with little space between teeth are advised to use waxed floss as most of them contain sodium fluoride and other antibacterial agents. Theyalso glide easily between teeth.
- Un-waxed Floss; these are bestfor teeth not too tight together.
- Tape Floss; it is like a ribbon and is most appropriate for people with wider teeth spaces.E.g.the Colgate Dental Tape.
- Teflon Floss; a good example of Teflon Flossis the Crest ‘Glide’ floss.The fact that it is made of Teflon means it will not get stuck between teeth.If it does, it will come out easily. This type of floss is made for those who are reluctant to floss as it glides easily between teeth.
It does not matter much the type of floss one uses. The most important thing is that you floss at least once each day with floss that does not irritate gums.Any form of bleeding while flossing is a sign of gingivitis, an indication that you should floss often. However, forceful sawing motion while flossing can also damage gums and cause bleeding. Therefore, when flossing,ensure to be gentle on gums.
HOW TO CHOOSE THE CORRECT DENTAL FLOSS
There are two types of Dental Floss;
- Dental Floss in holder type; for those who do not prefer holding floss with their fingers.
- Spool Ribbon type;where sufficient amount of flossing ribbon is cut off and tightly held with fingers before flossing.
In both, the flossing filament is either; Nylon (multifilament) or PTFE (monofilament). They can be waxed or not and come in a wide range of flavours. Monofilament floss is the latest innovation from plastic, rubber or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Whatever your choice will be, consider the following:
- Flavors; although this will not influence the actual flossing technique, it may influence your overall perception and mental outlook with regard to flossing. The use of un-preferred flavours will lead to less flossing thus more risk to the teeth. Examples of flavours include; cinnamon, citrus and mint. Try each to find out the one you are more comfortable with.
- Floss Containers; floss can be packed in either simple containers or containers with special features. The later contains floss that is easier to use and manoeuvre.
- Floss Width;the narrower the floss, the better it is for narrower spaces and the easier it is to use. The wider the floss, the better it is for bigger/wider teeth spaces.
- Waxedor Un-waxed; waxed floss tend to resist pressure because of its tensile strength. On the other hand, un-waxed floss is preferred where there is more tightness around the enamel area.
- Flexibility;a good floss should allow for angular flexibility when getting around the teeth.
- FlossEffectiveness; woven nylon floss are considered more effectivebecause of their flexibility and abrasive nature. Although recommended for normal and widely spaced teeth, they are quite uncomfortable for more compact teeth where monofilament floss is the better option.
- Softness for pain-free flossing; an inappropriate floss can make flossing uncomfortable and painful thereby discouraging one from regular flossing. It is therefore important to choose soft floss that will ensure the flossing exercise is pain-free and comfortable. Example of a soft floss include; Oral-B® SATINfloss® and Oral-B’s Satin dental Tape.
There is no definite response as to which floss is best when compared to others.In fact, a recent periodontology research indicated that there is no major difference in the ability of different types of floss that were tested. Therefore, the best floss is the one you are currently using. The only advice is; FLOSS REGULARLY!