What are the Benefits of Flossing with Dental Floss?

Read the ADA's statement on benefits of regular brushing and flossing. Flossing one’s teeth is an activity that is critical for maintaining good dental health and hygiene. While brushing cleans the surface of the teeth, flossing is necessary to clean out the gaps between the teeth, where food and bacteria often gets caught and remain despite vigorous brushing of the front and rear surfaces of the teeth. Leaving food and bacteria in these gaps accelerates plaque build-up, and can lead to cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease. Left untreated, gum disease can lead to other severe health conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, and a high body mass index. Bacteria caught between teeth also causes bad breath and may detract from the appearance of the teeth. Despite these serious consequences, flossing on regularly basis using the proper flossing tools and techniques is also one of the most difficult personal health habits for people to develop and incorporate into their daily health and grooming routines.

Who Invented Dental Floss? When was Dental Floss Invented?

Dental floss was invented in 1815 by Levi Spear Parmly, a New Orleans dentist who advised his patients to use thin thread to clean between their teeth. Johnson
and Johnson patented dental floss in 1898. At the time, it was made out of silk. Today, there are two basic types of dental floss: multifilament dental flosses, such as nylon and silk; and monofilament dental floss, which is generally made of some type of rubber, plastic or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Nylon dental floss, which tends to be a lot cheaper, comes in a large variety of thicknesses and flavors, and can be bought with or without wax. Monofilament dental floss is a newer technology, and because it isn't a fabric like nylon, it resists ripping and tearing. Also, because monofilament flosses are stronger, many people feel that it is easier to use and pull between teeth. The plastic or rubber material in monofilament dental floss also seems to glide easier between the teeth for many people. Both types of dental floss are available in a variety of different flavors, including, for instance, mint, cinnamon, bubblegum, and even bacon. In addition, both types of dental floss are available in different thicknesses, which is important because different people can have significantly different amounts of space between their teeth. Dental tape, which is a wide, flat ribbon of nylon is another type of dental floss that may be obtained in waxed or un-waxed form. Dental tape is typically easier to insert between the teeth than traditional dental floss because it is generally thinner in one dimension.

What is the Proper Way to Floss?  What is the Proper Method of Flossing?  What is the Best Way to Floss? How to Floss Properly?

The American Dental Association(ADA) recommends the following steps to help achieve maximum efficacy during flossing: (1) Break or cut off about an 18-inch length of dental floss; (2) Wind some of the length of dental floss around the middle finger of one hand; (3) Wind some of the remaining length of dental floss around the middle finger of the opposite hand, and use the opposite hand to take the dental floss up as it is used and becomes soiled; (4) Hold the dental floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers and gently insert it between the teeth; (5) Curve the length of dental floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth and rub the dental floss gently up and down, keeping it pressed against the tooth; (6) Do not jerk or snap the dental floss; and (7) Floss all of the teeth and do not neglect to floss behind the teeth in the rear areas of the mouth.

The Problems Using Ordinary Dental Floss

Anyone who has ever flossed using conventional dental floss knows that flossing, even with the ADA-recommended method, can be a difficult, messy and relatively unpleasant experience for some people. Maintaining a good grip on the dental floss while manipulating the dental floss to position fresh sections of dental floss
between the teeth requires a substantial amount of time and attention, as well as a considerable amount of manual dexterity to carry out all of the ADA-recommended steps. The dental floss can be very uncomfortable to grip and use in accordance with the ADA-recommended procedure. Specifically, gripping the dental floss by winding it around the fingers can be very cumbersome and even painful for many users. This discomfort may be intensified by the fact that the dental floss must be squeezed tightly between the thumbs and forefingers to hold it in place between the teeth. It is also difficult to adjust the reposition the dental floss to use a different section of the dental floss because repositioning the floss requires unwinding and rewinding the dental floss around the user’s fingers. In addition, gripping, repositioning and manipulating dental floss gradually becomes more and more difficult and uncomfortable during a flossing session as the dental floss gets wet with the user’s saliva and/or rinsing.

What Type of Dental Floss Should I use?  Different Types of Dental Floss?

Although there have been many meaningful advances in the mat?erials, thicknesses, flavors and surface treatments for dental floss, there have been very few innovations over the past 200 years directed to making it any easier, cleaner and more comfortable for people to use dental floss on a regular and consistent basis. Flossing forks and flossing picks have been introduced in an attempt to make flossing less of a hassle for people. However, there are a number of significant disadvantages associated with using flossing forks and picks. First, flossing forks and picks generally do not permit users to select from the large variety of the aforementioned types of dental flosses available on the market today. Second, flossing forks and picks are not environmentally friendly because they require users to dispose of several plastic forks or picks with each flossing, contributing to the amount of plastic that ends up in landfills. Third, flossing forks and picks also tend to be much more expensive than dental floss. Most importantly, however, it is impossible to use flossing forks and picks for flossing and still meet the ADA’s recommended efficacy standards for proper flossing because the recommended steps cannot be carried out effectively with anything other than a relatively freely moving and flexible length of dental floss that can easily be manipulated by the thumbs and fingers of each hand during flossing. Therefore, flossing forks and flossing picks are considered by the ADA to be ill-suited for proper flossing. Consequently, using dental floss remains the only approved and recommended method for interdental cleaning recommended by the American Dental Association (ADA).

Should I Use those Plastic Floss Forks and Picks?

Ordinary dental floss is still the only ADA–approved method of inter-dental cleaning. Floss forks are not ADA-approved because they do not allow you to perform the ADA-recommended procedure for proper flossing and are therefore deemed less effective. The ADA-recommended procedure requires a flexible extended section of floss that can form a “C” shape around the teeth.

Also, floss forks do not work with ordinary dental floss and therefore do not allow you to take advantage of the wide variety of materials, thicknesses and flavors on the market today; they are not environmentally friendly, requiring users to send several plastic forks to our landfills each day; and they are significantly more expensive per use than ordinary dental floss.

When is the Best Time to Floss?

The best time to floss is after that last meal and snack of the day prior to going to bed.  This will give your teeth and mouth the longest period of time free of bacteria and food particles.  If you sleep for 8 hours and your last meal or snack is 3 hours before you go to bed and you don't eat breakfast until one hour after you get up the next morning this would mean you could have 12 hours of a clean teeth.   If convenient, you should try to get an additional flossing after any of  your meals throughout the day but understandably it is challenge for most to find the time so make sure you at a minimum routinely floss before going to bed.  Unless your mouth and gums get irritated by flossing, you can never floss too much.

Should I Floss Before or After I Brush?

For the best results,  start with a quick brush, then floss and then a vigorous brush. Finally rinse with mouthwash.

To make sure that nightly flossing is part of your regular routine, use your smartphone to set a recurring reminder.  It's just as important as that regular Monday morning meeting.

What is Dental Floss Made of - Materials?

How is Dental Floss Made?

Dental Floss Products & Accessories Buying Guide (Under Construction):

Reach Dental Floss Products 

Reach Minted Wax - This mint flavored floss is waxed to slide easily between teeth while it removes plaque and food particles.
Reach Waxed - Waxed is an unflavored floss that is waxed to slide easily between teeth while it removes plaque and food particles.
Reach Dentotape - An unflavored, waxed floss with an extra-wide cleaning surface to effectively remove plaque and food particles from larger spaces.
Reach Total Care Floss -
Reach Gentle Gum Care Floss -
Reach Total Care Plus Whitening Floss -
Reach Access Flosser Floss -

Reach Listerine Brand Dental Floss Products

Listerine Ultraclean Floss - For easy sliding and a superior clean
Listerine Gentle Gum Care Floss - Soft, woven floss for sensitive gums
Listerine Healthy White Floss - Designed to remove tough stains like coffee, tea and wine
Listerine Ultraclean Access Flosser - Easily gets to 100% of hard to reach places

Oral-B Dental Floss Products

Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss Picks -
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Clinical Protection Floss -
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean Floss -
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Comfort Plus Floss –
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health For Sensitive Gums Floss
Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Original Floss Picks -
Oral-B Complete Statin Floss -
Oral-B Complete Statin Tape -
Oral-B Super Floss -
Oral-B Essential Floss Cavity Defense -
Oral-B Complete Deep Clean Ultra Floss -
Oral-B Floss Picks Advantage Series -

Dentek Dental Floss Picks

Dentek Triple Clean -
Dentek Comfort Clean -
Dentek Fresh and White Silky Whitening -
Dentek Comfort Clean Back Teeth -
Dentek Fresh Clean -
Dentek Complete Clean Back Teeth -
Dentek Complete Clean -
Dentek Floss Threaders  -

Plackers Dental Flossers and Oral Hygiene  Products

Micro Mint Flossers -
GentleSlide Flossers -
Gentle Fine Flossers -
Twin-Line Flossers -
Whitening Flossers -
Kids Flossers -
OrthoPick FlossersMicro Mint Flossers

Plackers Interdental Brushes and Accessories

GentlePicks -
Dental Brushes -
Angle Brushes -
Tongue Cleaner -
Dental Tools -