Flosser picks (also called floss picks) have become very popular in recent years, especially for families with young children.
Manufacturers have touted their benefits as a great, fun way to get kids into the healthy habit of flossing by even putting children’s hero icons on the handles. (Anyone up for a Dora flosser?)
But do these flosser picks really provide the benefits suggested or are they actually ingraining poor oral hygiene habits?
Here are our 4 main reasons why flosser picks are not a healthy floss option.
If you’ve been reading our blog for a bit, you’ll know we like to stay firmly rooted in solutions. In other words, there’s plenty in the oral health/dental world to complain and ‘yell fire’ about.
But that’s not our style. We like to share our thoughts/research on solutions that will help you navigate this path to greater oral health.
So, it’s in this spirit of helping that we share why we consider flosser picks a very poor choice of floss for anyone looking to navigate the path to a healthier mouth.
1. Floss picks lack the powerful feedback info regular floss can provide
One of the biggest hurdles anyone on the path to greater oral health has to get over is a lack of awareness with what’s going on in our own mouth. We call this a mental disconnect. In fact, a lack of awareness is ‘step 1’ in our free video tutorial series, the 5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth.
The absolute best strategy to provide more information about what’s going on in your own mouth is to ‘consciously floss’. We coined the term ‘conscious flossing’ to describe a strategy of flossing and checking for any smell and/or color at each flossing site.
This conscious flossing technique gives us very important feedback information regarding where in our mouths we might have active infection.
The first problem with flosser picks is you don’t have a clean segment of floss to use at each flossing site to determine what’s going on at that site. So, we lose this very important opportunity to gain more insight into the health of our gum pockets by using a flosser pick.
Here’s a link to learn more about conscious flossing.
2. Floss picks can be tough on sensitive gum tissue
When I was a kid (Will here), my friends and I would dare each other to sit still while the other held a rubber band between thumb and index finger and ’SNAP’ the rubber band by pulling the middle back like a slingshot and releasing onto our cringing buddy. (What are friends for, right?)
Floss picks can function similar to the rubber band torture toy we used to play with as kids. If you have tight contacts between teeth which provides a bit of resistance when inserting floss between your teeth, when flossing with a segment of floss, you can wiggle the floss back and forth to avoid snapping the floss onto your gum tissue.
However, the floss pick lacks the space to do this ‘wiggle the floss into the pocket’ strategy. So, you’re left with snapping the floss between the tight contact and risk torturing your gum tissue.
For clarity, gum tissue is resilient and likes to be massaged, even stimulated. But it doesn’t like to be banged by floss being inserted roughly into the gum pocket.
3. Floss picks risk spreading bad bugs into healthy parts of your mouth
Our biggest reason for not being fans of floss picks is using the same little piece of floss between many teeth risks moving bad bugs from one pocket to other areas of the mouth that may not have been infected by bad bugs yet.
Think about it. One of the main functions of flossing is to disrupt and disorganize bad bugs. When you do this with a piece of floss, some of the bad bugs are left clinging to the floss segment. This is why is it very important to always use a clean bit of floss at each floss site.
To add insult to injury, by using the same segment of floss throughout the mouth, not only are you giving bad bugs a free ride around your mouth, you are actually inserting them right where you least want them, where they thrive best, and where they can do the most damage… at the bottom of your gum pockets.
4. The impact of single use plastics
Even if you don’t consider yourself much of an ‘environmentalist’, I’m sure we can all agree that any chance we can lower our consumption of ‘single use’ plastic, it’s a step in the right direction regarding lowering our impact and helping the world be less polluted one floss pick at a time.
If you keep your eyes open for flossers, you’ll see them everywhere, from parking lots to playgrounds. Sure, if we all put our trash in trash cans, we wouldn’t have to look at these flossers all over. But an even better step is to just stop using them.
If you’re not aware of the work the folks at the Ocean Cleanup Project, you owe it to yourself to take a look at what amazing progress is being made toward leaving the earth to our children in a little cleaner condition than we received it.
We can see using these floss picks as an emergency, after a meal out tool to remove some food stuck between a couple teeth. However, we just keep a spool of our favorite floss in our car for these moments.
“So, if floss picks aren’t the best flossing solution, what is?”
Well, since you asked :), here’s a link to our analysis of 12 popular brands of floss on the market. We rank each in 4 separate categories. If you ever feel dizzy or numb from all the options of floss available, this should help. “What’s the best floss on the market and why?”
Until then, may you have an awesome week filled with lots of healthy smiles!
Helpful, Related Resources:
5 Steps to a Healthy Mouth (free video tutorial series)
How to Create Greater Oral Health for the Whole Family (article)
Does Flossing Really Lower My Risk of Heart Attack? (article)
“What’s the best floss on the market and why?” [floss analysis]