I Hate Flossing! What else can I use?  

By Marilyn Abdalla RDH, Sunday, December 7, 2008


Almost every day a patient sits down for their recall appointment and the first thing they say,”It’s going to be bad, I haven’t been flossing.” When I ask “Why?”, each has a different answer, but a common refrain is “I hate flossing”.

First I must state that flossing correctly, once each day, is the most effective way of removing the soft deposits between the teeth, before they get hard. Some people, however  are overwhelmed with floss, they find it too hard to manipulate, it takes too long, and it is just too much trouble. Does that mean if you won’t floss you can do nothing else ?Absolutely not!  Your goal should be to clean the spaces between the teeth that your toothbrush can not reach and there are many alternatives to using  floss.

What are some of the floss substitutes that I recommend?

A handy floss substitute is the Placker, a plastic device about 3″ long, one end comes to a point (used as a toothpick) the other end is shaped as a U with a short piece of floss. These are handy, quick and disposable.

Dr Spindel often recommends Proxabrushes. These are little brushes which come in different shapes and sizes, perfect and easy to use for cleaning between teeth when there is enough room. He has a page on the web site on how to use these little brushes

He also likes StaiNo minis, which are conveniently packaged little brushes in a matchbook size package. They are hard to be find but the company has a web site www.staino.com with a toll free phone number listed for ordering.

Another good choice are Brush Piks:These are flexible, one end is pointed the other end has plastic brush for larger spaces.

I also like Plastic picks: come in all shapes and sizes, some with one end curved.

Soft Picks are new! They are very thin and flexible and made by Butler. Extremely gentle.

Stimudents: triangular orange wood sticks.  These are an old standby and are easy and effective to use with a simple push pull motion. They come in a convenient matchbook sized package.

Rubber tip: very gentle, especially good for under bridges.

I tell my patients it is not important what they use, but they must find what is right for them.  What is important , is that each day they remove the plaque and food debris , that collects between the teeth. It really doesn’t matter which tool you use, but you must touch it with something in order to remove it. Whatever works for them is right!