The Truth About Those Floss Picks You Use To Clean Your Teeth And Gums

You have surely heard it from your dentist time and again: Flossing is essential to your oral hygiene. Unfortunately, it is also tedious and time consuming. To make the process easier, many have turned to using floss picks in the place of the traditional spool of floss. But just how effective is that? Here's the truth about those floss picks you use to clean your teeth and gums. 

The American Dental Association recommends flossing a minimum of once per day to prevent the growth of bacteria between the teeth and on the gums. To make it easier, there are several options for cleaning these areas, such as traditional floss, floss picks, and even water picking. Which option is the best, though? Chad Evans, DDS, told The Healthy that it can depend on personal preference more than anything. "I always say, the best flossing tool is the one you will use. From a question of 'effectiveness,' they are all comparably effective," he said. "I encourage patients to find the tool that works best for them, and go with that." 

Speaking more specifically about the different types of flossing, Dr. Evans said traditional floss has its drawbacks and benefits. Despite being inconvenient and a bit of a process, spooled floss "does give you a fresh spot of floss for every proximal space." He added, "That allows you to use a fresh and clean piece of floss between every tooth." How does traditional flossing compare to floss picks, though?

Floss picks or traditional floss?

Compared to traditional floss, floss picks are small plastic devices that come with a single section of floss held in place by two prongs. To use them, you work the piece of floss gently through your teeth to remove bits of food as you would with normal floss. The benefits to this method include the ease of holding the plastic handle and that there is no unspooling floss and manipulating it with your own fingers. You can even bring them along with you in a pocket or a purse for flossing on the go, per The Healthy. Floss picks certainly have a lot of benefits, but they may not clean your teeth as well as spooled floss, though.

Floss picks can be easier to use, especially in the back of the mouth, but the design can impact the flossing technique and reduce its effectiveness, per Winning Smiles Dental Care. Additionally, reusing the single section of floss can move bacteria and food throughout the mouth. With traditional floss, you would use a clean section of the floss for each tooth, which prevents that spread.

As Dr. Evans stated, the best tool is the one that you will actually use. If it's floss picks or nothing, using a floss pick to clean between your teeth is a great option. However, if you're committed to getting the cleanest mouth possible, it may be wiser to stick to tried and true spools of floss.