It’s the eight-letter word that can prove a bit of a minefield for all of us – flossing. Although some recent media reports have implied flossing does not help our oral health, authoritative bodies like the European Federation of Periodontology maintain that brushing your teeth twice a day only cleans 60% of the tooth and gum surface, leaving 40% unclean, unless you regularly floss.
The long-term effects of this can be devastating. As plaque builds up, it produces acids that break down the gums and leads to bleeding and tenderness. This is the beginning of gum disease – or gingivitis.
But we can stop this process by flossing regularly and using flossing tools to clean between our teeth. So below we’ve compiled a handy list for you of all the best flossing tools you’ll ever need to maintain that beautiful smile of yours.
It is very important to have a handle on basic oral hygiene; understanding exactly what you need to be doing for your teeth on a daily basis. Below we have included some of the most important tips:
A water flosser is an ideal way of cleaning your teeth with minimal irritation to the gums. These handy flossing tools, also known as oral irrigators, use jets of water to remove harmful plaque and bacteria from the mouth. They also aid the reduction of bacteria below the gum line.
Simply put – these flossing tools are able to get to places a regular tooth brush can’t. The best part about these oral irrigators is that they remain gentle despite their complexity. This means you are less likely to get bleeding on the gums, while still removing that nasty 40% of plaque and bad bacteria.
The only downside would be their general bulk and size, but these handy tools are incredibly helpful in maintaining a healthy smile and hygiene and are a significant alternative to flossing – so much so, we wrote a handy article just for you comparing the best water flossers on the market.
If water flossers still seem a bit of a mystery to you, have a look at this video detailing how to use your water flosser (and importantly – without making a mess!):
Interdental brushes are probably the most commonly used of the flossing tools available on the market. They are a handy alternative to flossing, as each works differently for different people and their smile. Interdental cleaning brushes are now considered the most popular method of cleaning out there.
They are expensive, but most people have reported finding them convenient and easier to use than dental floss. Coming in many different sizes and styles, these brushes use long, thin bristles to reach between the teeth and sweep away plaque and bacteria from the teeth and gum surfaces.
Some people have multiple different sizes of these brushes to suit the different gaps in between teeth in their mouth. However, once you have the right brush or brushes selected, the process is very satisfying and easy. They are normally supplied with a clear cap that fits over the brush head for protection, which is significantly helpful if you are travelling.
Some of the sizes vary in diameter from 0.4mm through to 1.6mm. This really is dependent on the person using these helpful flossing tools. Each mouth is different and you really need to trial what is best for you.
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You guessed it. We could not write this article without including the ‘old faithful’ of flossing tools. Dental floss has been used for a long time, and is a good way of removing food from between your teeth and down on your gum surfaces. Using dental floss is relatively straight forward – using a type of thin tape or string known as floss, you move between the teeth and gums to remove harmful bacteria and plaque from building up around you.
The most commonly reported issue with regular floss is that it is awkward to insert the floss between the teeth with just your own hands. Whereas the water flosser uses a gentle pressure of water and air, and interdental brushes have the bristles already set up for you, this method requires a lot of your precision. It can be a struggle to position your hands correctly with the floss while inserting, let alone having the right technique.
Nevertheless, this method is still popular, and it now comes in varying thickness, with wider ‘tape’ floss available. This can prove more comfortable as the larger surface area doesn’t feel like it cuts quite as badly. These flossing tools do however prove effective in getting into the tightest of gaps in teeth, so despite a bit of bleeding, it can work for some with small gaps in between their teeth.
One of the significant issues mentioned with traditional dental floss is that it is challenging to get the angle right to floss between the teeth, without compromising good technique. That is where flossing picks and holders have come in. Much like toothbrushes, but with a floss head instead, the long handle of these flossing tools makes it easier to reach into the mouth, even right to the back, and move the flosser around for a great clean.
Often, the design of these flossing tools allows you to bite slowly on the plastic at the top of the floss head to help move it between the teeth. The only issue here is environmental sustainability, as you throw each head away after each session of flossing. Most packs have between 25-50 replacement floss heads. The current issues we face as a planet, means using this amount of plastic is probably a little challenging.
However, unlike floss picks, most floss holders have been designed to be reusable. You normally cut a piece of floss to length and thread yourself, which is an environmentally friendly alternative. Floss holders are usually very beneficial in allowing you to reach the hard-to-reach areas and gaps of the mouth.
Floss threaders are traditionally most effective for people with braces. These handy flossing tools are designed to make positioning floss in the mouth easier for you. Floss is looped through the threader, much like you would do when putting thread through the eye of a needle for those of you interested in needlework. It works perfectly for people who have braces as it passes between those tricky brace wires, allowing for a full clean of the teeth and gums.
The thread is stiffer and more durable than traditional dental floss, but still has enough flexibility to help the floss pass between the wires and is very effective for getting to the hardest to reach places in the mouth, which is something to take into consideration as far as flossing tools go.
Some products on the market say they assist in threading floss through bridges and implants as well as braces, so those who have these will be able to feel more comfortable flossing.
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…it is now clear there are multiple options when it comes to flossing tools on the market. But what is not up for debate is how important carrying out interdental cleaning and flossing is! Those that use one of the handy options we’ve explored above are at a far lower risk of gum diseases, and those who do not are at risk of significant long-term effects on their oral hygiene and health. The plaque and bacteria build-up around this area can be hugely detrimental on your teeth, but we can always stop the process.
If you are experiencing any tenderness or bleeding around your gums and teeth, then please look into the options explored above; we hope the handy list will help you to begin flossing regularly. Doing this for just a few minutes a day will help you maintain that healthy and beautiful smile forever.
Jane is a busy mum of two who is always looking for life hacks to make her life easier! She enjoys crafting, bargain hunting and is trying to reduce her carbon footprint one step at a time!
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