Dental Floss Alternatives: Do They Really Work?

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on November 14, 2016

There is no doubt about it, flossing is important; but even though this is common knowledge, Canadians still aren’t flossing enough. According to the Canadian Dental Association, (CDA) seven out of 10, or 70 per cent, of Canadians will develop gum disease. That is a high number, considering how easy it is to prevent this type of disease.

“Prevention is the most important factor in the fight against gum disease. It is essential to keep your teeth and gums clean. Brush your teeth properly at least twice a day and floss at least once every 24 hours,” advises the CDA on their website. “Take a piece of floss about 18 inches long and wrap it around your middle fingers. Using a clean section of floss each time, wrap the floss into a C shape around a tooth. Wipe it over the tooth, from base to tip, a couple of times. Repeat on each tooth.”

Since flossing is so important, and often overlooked, today we’ll explore some dental floss alternatives that can help you develop the habit of flossing your teeth; but be warned! Not all of these common alternatives are going to get you the results you need.

Water Picks: Water picks can be purchased up at your local drug store and they use a projected stream of water to clean between your teeth. Note that the Mayo Clinic says water flossers can help with gum bleeding and inflammation, along with helping to dislodge food stuck between your teeth, but they are not a good substitute for regular flossing and brushing. So, if you have a water pick, use it to supplement, not replace, your oral hygiene routine.

Flossers: These are small hand-held devices that hold your floss in place, suspended by two “arms”. Some are disposable, and some are refillable. They come in a range of sizes, making it much easier to reach those elusive back teeth. Flossers are handy and convenient, just make sure you are using that “C” motion around your teeth, and not just running the flosser up and down between each tooth.


1-cocunut-oil.pngOil Pulling: Can swishing coconut oil around in your mouth really help prevent teeth decay? Surprisingly, yes – but only in conjunction with regular brushing, flossing and visits to the dentist. WebMD took on the oil pulling myth and discovered that “it's not a practice that's based on pseudo-science. Recent studies show that oil pulling helps against gingivitis, plaque, and microorganisms that cause bad breath.” The dentist that sourced information for the article noted that oil pulling is a natural remedy that goes back about 3,000 years.

So when it comes right down to it, there are several convenient tools and hacks you can use to improve your dental care routine, but there is no substitute for good old fashioned brushing and flossing. If you need a new technique to inspire you to take better care of your teeth, or need a fast solution for when you truly don’t have time to floss, go ahead and try an alternative, but make sure it’s a stepping stone to a flossing habit, and not a replacement for flossing.

The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award four years in a row (2013 – 2016) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

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London, Ontario, Canada
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