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Image of dental unwaxed floss with a toothbrush in the back

Waxed or Unwaxed Floss? And What’s Dental Tape Anyway?

How much do you know about dental floss?

Probably not that much, right?

But walk into any drugstore, and you are bombarded with many different types of floss. There’s waxed and unwaxed. Super floss. Dental tape. Electric flossers and water flossers.

(RELATED: Flossing Can Add Years to Your Life)

Which one is right for you? I tell patients that the best floss is the one you find easiest to work with. Here’s a break down of the different types of floss and what they’re best for.

Unwaxed floss: Best for tight spaces

Traditional, unwaxed floss is made of thin nylon strands and fits into tight spaces. This type of floss is best if your teeth are set tight together.

Its non-slip grip makes it easy to hold but can fray or break.

Waxed floss: Best for rough edges

For teeth with rough or irregular edges, waxed floss is the ticket. The waxed coating allows floss to slide rather than snag and it strengthens the material, preventing the floss from fraying or breaking in use. Additional benefits: waxed floss comes in flavors including cinnamon and mint More importantly, you can also find fluoride-coated floss, allowing you to strengthen your enamel as you clean your teeth and gums.

(RELATED: Lie About Flossing Your Teeth? So Does Everyone Else)

Dental tape: Best for larger gaps

Do you have larger gaps between your teeth? Try dental tape. It’s wider and flatter than regular floss and is sold in both waxed and unwaxed versions. Because it glides between teeth at their full height, it’s very effective in removing bits of leftover food.

Water flossers: Best for gentle care

If your teeth or gums need gentle care, try a water flosser. This electric wand shoots a thin stream of water between teeth and around the gum line. Water flossers are quite effective, removing food particles and plaque with ease. Water flossers are also good for maneuvering around braces, bridges, and implants.

Super floss: Best for braces and bridges

You can try super floss as well if you have braces or restorative dental work. Super floss is a pre-threaded flosser that comes in pre-cut segments. It has a stiff end that helps guide it through tight spaces and hard-to-reach areas.

(RELATED: Why Do I Have Bleeding Gums After Brushing or Flossing?)

Electric flossers: Best for when you need a helping hand

If you have arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or for any reason find it difficult to maneuver dental floss by hand, consider trying an electric flosser. Electric flossers use a sturdy fishing line-like nylon that vibrates between the teeth in an oscillating motion. Don’t overdo it, though. Overzealous use of an electric flosser can wear down your gum line.

I recommend that you try different dental floss options until you find the one that works best for you. If you’re not sure, start by looking for products with the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. That way, you’ll know it’s safe for your teeth and will get the job done.

About H. Robert Stender DDS, Inc.

 H. Robert Stender DDS, Inc. offers affordable cosmetic and laser dentistry and gentle, compassionate general dental care in Pasadena, CA. Our office is conveniently located with extended hours to meet your needs. At H. Robert Stender DDS, we provide most dental services, from basic preventative care and general dentistry to specialized procedures, complete dental reconstruction and TMJ/Headache management. Patient satisfaction is our top priority and we strive to provide the exceptional, affordable dental care and personal touch that lead to lasting relationships. A smiling patient is our greatest reward and we look forward to keeping those smiles healthy, beautiful, and bright. Discover affordable up-to-date dentistry and a team who truly cares at H. Robert Stender DDS.