Ask a Dentist

Q: Is it okay to use floss picks, or should I use regular floss?

A: Floss picks can be effective if they are used properly. Replaceable floss picks are convenient in a few ways—they’re easier to hold and simpler to use when reaching certain areas in the mouth. Interdental brushes are handy if you wear braces, have limited mobility or spaces between your teeth. These thin, small-headed tools have handle grips and tiny bristles which can reach between your teeth. You can not wrap floss picks or interdental brushes around individual teeth in order to remove all plaque as you can with regular floss but some people find them less cumbersome and awkward. Whatever encourages and motivates you to floss is key!

Electric flossing is another option and its vibration can double as a tongue scraper.

Other substitutes for flossing, such as toothpicks and water picks may not clean your teeth and gums properly. This leaves you vulnerable to dental problems in the future. Toothpicks may leave behind small food residue between your teeth where plaque may grow. They can also cause trauma to soft tissues if used too aggressively. Water picks only wash away what it can reach on the surface of your teeth. Whatever method you choose, make sure you floss daily to lower your chances of getting gingivitis or gum disease.

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