When it comes to flossing, you have options. Dental floss and dental tape are effective tools for cleaning between your teeth — as long as you know how to use them correctly.
You’ve probably been hearing that you should floss each day since you were a child. From your parents to your dentists, everyone seems to be emphasizing the importance of flossing — and they’re not wrong! Flossing can remove plaque from your teeth and prevent plaque accumulation, tartar, cavities, and gum disease. But in all that time, has anyone ever brought up what to floss with?
By default, most people use dental floss, but there are other options available, such as dental tape. Both products will help you clean your teeth, but they differ from each other slightly. By understanding the difference between dental tape and dental floss, you’ll be able to choose the most effective product for you to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth.
Dental Tape vs. Dental Floss
While brushing can help remove plaque from the front and back surfaces of your teeth, you’ll have to use dental tape, dental floss, or a water flosser to effectively clean beneath your gum line and between your teeth.
Dental floss consists of twisted nylon filaments or plastic monofilaments and comes in waxed and unwaxed varieties. Unwaxed floss is easier to grip than waxed floss, but it’s also more prone to breakage, fraying, and snapping during use. If you’re trying to make your oral care routine more eco-friendly, you can purchase biodegradable floss made from silk!
Compared to dental floss, dental tape — also known as ribbon tape — is flatter, broader, and a little more stretchy. Dental tape is often made of waxed nylon or polythene fiber, and it’s generally around one millimeter wider than dental floss. Thanks to its flat surface, dental tape can slide between your teeth more easily. It’s also less likely to snap against your gums than dental floss.
When it comes to picking one of these interdental cleaning products over the other, the main things to consider are how easy each one is for you to use and which one is most effective at cleaning between your teeth. If you have larger fingers or find it difficult to hold thin strands of dental floss, you might be better off using dental tape. However, if your teeth are very close together, waxed floss might be best, as its coating allows the floss to easily slip between teeth. Plus, waxed floss is sturdier than its unwaxed counterpart, so you won’t have to worry about it fraying or breaking as you’re flossing.
Flossing The Right Way
Dental floss and dental tape can effectively remove plaque — as long as you know how to use them. So, whether you opt to use dental floss or dental tape, set aside time to learn how to floss correctly.
To start, break off an 18-inch piece of floss or tape. Then, wind the ends around your middle fingers. Use your pointer finger and thumb to pinch the string and gain control. After inserting the floss or tape into the gap between your teeth, wrap it around your tooth’s edge to form a c-shape. Begin gently moving the floss or tape back and forth, working your way up the gap. Then, shift the floss, giving you a clean section of tape or floss, and reverse the c-shape to clean the other tooth. Do this for all the gaps between your teeth.
You can talk to your dentist for advice and try using pre-threaded flossers, dental picks, water flossers, or small dental brushes if you’re struggling to use dental floss or tape correctly. Even if you’re not having difficulties flossing, you should still visit your dentist regularly.