Are floss picks as good as regular floss?
Floss picks vs 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. Longenecker recommends traditional floss or dental tape. Here’s why:
A floss pick holds just a small segment of floss stretched in a straight line. Looking down, a tooth is shaped somewhat round or oval, with occasional irregularities. A straight piece 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 effectively clean that vital 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 faithful floss pick users who developed decay due to a minuscule crack the floss pick missed day after day.
Here is a refresher course on appropriate flossing:
1. Cut a strip 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 securely 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 essential 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 piece for each tooth. If you run out, that’s okay. Just toss the used piece and cut a new piece.
5. Some people find it more straightforward 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 choose, 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 frequently stops within a week or two.
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