What to Look for When Buying New Floss

When you head to a pharmacy or grocery store, you’re bombarded with decisions. By the time you’ve chosen a new shampoo and selected a milk brand, your brain is getting tired of picking and choosing. Then you head to the oral care aisle to pick up some new floss, only to be overwhelmed with more choices.

It’s enough to make any person throw up their hands and walk out of the store sans floss. But that would be a big mistake, because regular flossing is an essential part of a proper oral healthcare routine. It helps prevent cavities, gum disease, and bad breath and generally keeps your mouth spic and span.

So don’t give up in the oral care aisle; get savvy instead. The next time you’re in the market for new floss, refer to these handy guidelines for choosing the right floss for you.

Always look for the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.

This seal signifies that the floss in question has been evaluated (both in terms of its effectiveness and its safety) by independent experts. Brands can only earn the seal after producing scientific evidence that using their product is more effective at reducing plaque and gingivitis than simply brushing, that the product is safe to use in the mouth, and that unsupervised use of the product is unlikely to harm oral tissues. If you do nothing else when it comes to selecting a floss, looking for this seal will help ensure that the product you’ve purchased will actually be effective.

If your teeth are tightly spaced, consider thinner options.

It stands to reason that the smaller a floss is, the more easily it can fit into tight spaces. Thus, if your teeth are crowded, thin floss can be a great option. Look for single-strand varieties, which are as thin as floss can get. It may also be a good idea to select a waxed variety—while waxed floss may be thicker than unwaxed, single-strand floss, some people find the wax helps the floss glide more easily into tight spaces.

If you have large gaps between your teeth, choose a thicker floss.

Gap-toothed smiles are fashionable right now, so that’s all the more reason to care for your widely spaced teeth. If regular floss doesn’t fill the space between your teeth enough to target the sides of each tooth, then you may be better off looking for thicker varieties such as weaved floss, which consists of several strands woven together. Another good option is dental tape, which is a flat ribbon of nylon that comes in waxed and unwaxed varieties.

If you have limited dexterity in your hands, consider a flossing pick.

People can have difficulty manipulating floss around their teeth for a number of reasons, whether due to health conditions such as arthritis, reduced mobility stemming from aging, old and new injuries, and so on. If you fall into the category of people who struggle to use regular floss, flossing picks can provide a viable alternative. They make it easier to reach the back teeth and don’t require wrapping the floss around your fingers.

If you’re trying to cajole kids into flossing, consider flavored varieties.

Think getting your children to brush their teeth is challenging? Then flossing is like the White Whale of oral health. But you can make things easier on yourself by letting your child pick out a flavored option that gets them excited (or at least slightly more willing) to give flossing a try.

Take pricing into account.

The two types of floss dominating the market today are nylon and monofilament. While monofilament is stronger than nylon (and is therefore unlikely to tear), this perk comes at a price. For the most part, nylon-based options will be significantly cheaper than monofilament floss—so if pricing is a concern, this variety is the way to go. The good news is nylon floss can be waxed or unwaxed and comes in a variety of thicknesses and flavors, so you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Ultimately, the best floss for you is the one you actually use. Whether you like unwaxed and unflavored varieties or you like your floss to taste like cinnamon and be as waxy as it comes, catering to your own preferences will increase the chances that you follow through on this critical aspect of oral health.