March 01, 2015
Floss picks and floss holders are common alternatives to dental floss that people typically use as a part of their dental cleaning regimen. Both devices are different from regular flossing in that they hold the floss for you, which allows you to floss your teeth without having to constantly place your fingers into your mouth. This is especially helpful for people who have difficulty making fine movements with their hands or fingers, people who have a strong gag reflex, or people who find traditional flossing to be too laborious.
Floss picks are disposable plastic sticks shaped like an "F" or a "Y", with a small string of floss tightly positioned between two prongs. The handle of the floss pick typically tapers off into a pointed bottom, similar to the shape of a toothpick. Floss holders differ from floss picks in that they are slightly larger, and they require the floss to be manually threaded onto the device. They are similar in shape to a slingshot, and they feature a small protruding disc at the base of the forked prongs. The floss is threaded through the tips of the two prongs and then around the disc, allowing you to control the tightness or tension of the string.
The most prominent advantage of using floss picks and floss holders is that they are able to offer a greater level of utility and convenience versus using only your fingers and standard dental floss. This is especially true when it comes to flossing those difficult-to-reach back teeth. One common disadvantage that is often cited is that floss picks and floss holders are not as flexible as traditional floss in terms of being able to reach certain angles. It is commonly recommended for you to complete a C-shaped motion around each tooth when flossing, but it is more difficult to accomplish this with floss picks and floss holders due to their comparatively limited range of motion.
The best way to use a floss pick is to take a methodical approach, flossing the top row of teeth first (front to back), followed by the bottom row of teeth in the same manner. Simply insert the floss part of the pick in between your teeth and gently move it back and forth to dislodge any food particles or plaque. Repeat this process for each space between your teeth, making sure to rinse off the floss between intervals as needed. You can also use the pointed part of the floss pick handle to remove large food particles between your teeth.
Make sure not to force the floss into tight spaces between the teeth by applying excessive pressure; what can often happen in these cases is that if you manage to push the floss pick down hard enough, it will finally slip past the tight space between your teeth and then suddenly "slam" down hard on your gums, potentially causing injury or bleeding to the area of impact. The better way to go is to slide the pick back and forth while gently pressing down--almost like sawing a log--until the string slips past the tight spot.
To use a floss holder, you will first need to cut off a piece of floss roughly 12 to 18 inches in length. Wrap one end of the floss around the disc a couple of times to start off with, and then thread the floss through the hooks on the tips of both prongs. Once the floss has been pulled tautly, wrap the remaining floss about 2 or 3 times around the disc to come full circle. Once you have threaded the floss holder, follow the same flossing instructions as described above for the floss pick.