Does Your Choice Really Make A Difference? Floss, Tape, And Floss Picks

If you've been trying to remember to floss, you might have seen those packages of plastic picks with a little floss on each in the market. You may have also seen the array of floss options including tape, which is basically flattened-out floss. If you've been wondering if one of these other options will make it easier for you to floss, then you need to look carefully at how each works. There are situations in which one may be more or less appropriate than another.

Plain Old Floss

Regular floss -- the string that you can find waxed, unwaxed, and flavored -- can slip easily between most teeth. However, if a couple of your teeth are very close together, the floss can catch momentarily as you try to move it closer to the gum, through what is basically a nonexistent gap between the teeth. Then, it can suddenly shoot toward the gum, hitting the gum and causing a bit of soreness.

Regular floss is good if you don't have any gum issues that require you to be careful about touching the gums. This is also a cheap option as regular floss tends to be among the least expensive options.

Dental Tape

This flattened-out floss is also thin, which means it can slip more easily between those teeth that are very close together. Another advantage is if you tend to get a lot of food stuck between your teeth. The tape may be able to grab the food particles a little better than regular floss, which tends to slip around the food particles.

The disadvantage to dental tape is that, if you get a cheaply-made brand, it can shred and end up just a mess. You also have to be careful when placing it between your teeth because you don't want it to fold in half, making it thicker than normal. That can be uncomfortable when trying to floss in tight areas.

Floss Picks

These are plastic picks with a short length of floss strung across one end. They have a point at the other end that you can use as a toothpick. These are convenient, and you can slip a pack into your purse or briefcase to use when you're on the go. But they also don't allow you to really floss between more than two or three teeth because the floss portion is so short. If you have to floss your entire mouth with just one pick, you could end up spreading bacteria from one tooth to another. If you try to floss using one pick per two or three teeth, though, you'd run through the entire package quickly.

If you'd like to know more about your flossing options, talk to your dentist. He or she can show you other possible ways to get food out of your teeth, too, and you can set up an oral care routine that fits your needs perfectly.