Are there alternatives to flossing?

People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly, to avoid injuring your gums.

Cleaning between the teeth once a day with floss or interdental cleaners removes plaque from between the teeth, areas where the toothbrush can't reach. It is essential in preventing periodontal (gum) disease.
Flossing can be time consuming and frustrating, but like anything else, it gets easier with practice. Flossing the old-fashioned way, with a piece of floss between your fingers, is not only effective, it’s cheap. However, if you can’t floss because of arthritis or some other condition, or if you’re just looking to speed up the process, there are a few alternatives. Some companies make floss holders, which can be used effectively with one hand. Other companies make automatic flossers. Much like an electric toothbrush, these flossers move back and forth much faster than you would be able to with your hands. This speeds up the process of flossing considerably. The only downside is that they tend to be expensive.
Dante A. Gonzales, DMD
Orthodontics & Dentofacial Orthopedics

Using string floss is still the "gold standard" for cleaning between teeth but there are good alternatives:

  • flossers or floss holders
  • proxy brushes
  • wooden toothpicks
  • oral irrigators (Waterpik)

The better tools to use are ones that will physically "scrape" or "brush" the plaque off of the teeth. Most of the oral irrigators are good at removing debris from the teeth but are not as good at removing sticky plaque from the teeth. Any of these tools will help reduce plaque and are better than just brushing alone.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.