Are floss picks as good as regular floss?
Which is better, a floss pick or regular floss? While it’s better to floss with a floss pick than to not floss at all, it’s important to note that floss picks can only clean a part of the tooth’s surface. Dr. Kernagis recommends traditional floss or dental tape. Here’s why:
A floss pick holds just a small piece of floss stretched in a straight line. Looking down, a tooth is shaped somewhat round or oval, with occasional irregularities. A straight segment of floss just doesn’t make sense geometrically because it doesn’t conform to the contours of the tooth as well as traditional floss used correctly. By wrapping the floss completely around the circumference of a tooth, you can more capably clean that crucial area around and just below the gumline. And your fingers are much more nimble than a piece of plastic.
We have seen patients who are vigilant floss pick users who developed decay due to a small crack the floss pick missed day after day.
Here is a guide to appropriate flossing:
1. Cut a piece of floss about 18 inches long and securely wind each end around your middle fingers.
2. Take hold of the floss with your forefinger and thumb leaving about two inches to work with. Thread the floss between two teeth.
3. Hold the floss firmly against the side of the tooth and move it up and away from the gumline. You want to clean the space between the tooth and gum without pulling more gum tissue away, so it’s vital to scrape up and out of the pocket.
4. Move the floss around the tooth to clean every surface—especially those that your brush can’t reach. You can use a “shoeshine” method if you like. As you use a section of floss, unwind from one hand to access a clean piece. With 18 inches, you should have enough to deliver a clean segment for each tooth. If you run out, that’s okay. Just toss the used piece and cut a new length.
5. Some people find it easier to start on one end of the upper teeth and clean each gap one by one until they reach the end on the opposite side, and then repeat for the lower arch. Whatever method you decide on, make sure you clean around every tooth, including the back surfaces of the rear molars.
6. If you have never flossed before, your gums might bleed the first few times. The bleeding may be due to gum inflammation, the beginnings of gum disease. Keep flossing gently and the bleeding commonly stops within a week or two.
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