Flossing: from familiar to new information you should know

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What is flossing? Reasons why we should floss

Floss was once made from silk fibers twisted to form a long strand. Today, dental floss is a thin strand of twisted plastic monofilaments or nylon filaments (ADA). Flossing helps remove debris and interproximal dental plaque, the plaque that collects between two teeth.

Optimisation of plaque control is essential for the success of personal oral health care, preventing from dental caries and periodontal diseases. This cannot be achieved with brushing alone; hence, there is a need for adjunctive interdental – space between teeth – cleaning aids including flossing.

How to use dental floss?

Below instruction of using dental floss was published by ADA (American Dental Association) in 2005.


Use about 18 inches of floss wound around one of your middle fingers, with the rest wound around the opposite middle finger


Hold the floss tightly between the thumbs and forefingers and gently insert it between the teeth


Curve the floss into a “C” shape against the side of the tooth.


Rub the floss gently up and down, keeping it pressed against the tooth. Don’t jerk or snap the floss.


Floss all your teeth. Don’t forget to floss behind your back teeth.

Types of dental floss

Traditional dental floss

Traditional dental floss may be divided into 2 types: unwaxed and waxed. Unwaxed floss is thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking. Waxed floss is a standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.

Dental floss pick/ Floss holder

A dental floss pick is a small plastic tool with a curved end that holds a piece of dental floss. It is really useful for people lacking dexterity. Similar effectiveness of floss holders compared to handheld floss in reducing interproximal plaque and gingivitis. However, the tip pick of is tool is not recommended used like toothpick, because it may be harmful for periodontal tissue including gingiva.

Dental tape

Dental tape is very similar to floss, but, as the Florida Developmental Disabilities Council (FDDC) explains, dental tape is broader and flatter than dental floss. It’s also sometimes referred to as ribbon tape. Some people may find it difficult to handle thin strands of floss, especially if you have large fingers. In this case, the FDDC advises switching to dental tape.

Floss threader

Do you avoid flossing because you have braces, a dental bridge or a permanent retainer? A floss threader may be  the tool you need to start flossing regularly. A threader is a simple, disposable tool sold in the dental care section of nearly every grocery and pharmacy. It is easy to use with any kind of floss.

How to Use a Floss Threader

  • Pull off 12 to 18 inches of dental floss.
  • Insert one end of the dental floss about five inches into the loop of the threader.
  • Pass the floss threader under or over any dental appliance such as braces, permanent retainer or bridge.
  • Remove the threader from the floss and floss gently back and forth, up and down into the gumline between the teeth.
  • Repeat the process.

Super floss

Super flosses are made from yarn-like material that has stiffer sections on each end that can be used to clean around braces or dental bridges. Using super floss with a floss threader is easier.



There are various of different types of dental floss, but all of them have the same purpose of cleaning the interproximal space between teeth in reducing plaque and gingivitis. However, for more effective result in some particular condition such as implant, bridge, braces,etc. It is thought that additional oral health care products should be used. Let hiDental find out what they are in next posts!


  1. American Dental Association: https://www.ada.org/ 
  2. Ethan Ng, and Lum Peng Lim – An Overview of Different Interdental Cleaning Aids and Their Effectiveness, Dentistry Journal 2019
  3. Oral B: https://oralb.com/en-us
  4. Colgate: https://www.colgate.com/en-us 
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