If you earned a dime for every time a dental hygienist reminded you to floss – or told you that you could do a better job of flossing – you’d own an island by now with a fleet of yachts to get you there.
Truthfully, you don’t have any excuses for not flossing. It doesn’t take that long, it keeps you from getting all kinds of nasty tooth and gum diseases and keeps your smile looking good. And, besides, there several options for flossing, including floss picks – which we’ll cover in this post.
Floss picks represent an effective way to floss, and there are plenty of quality picks on the market, including our top choice, DenTek’s Complete Clean Floss Picks . We’ll review five other best floss picks and compare picks to traditional string floss and water flossers.
First, let’s start by discussing some floss pick buying tips:
- Before you buy: 8 Things to consider when purchasing floss picks
- 6 Best floss picks 2018
- Using a floss pick: how it’s done (A simple, 4-step illustrated guide)
- What’s the difference? floss picks vs. dental floss vs. water flosser
- Our reasons for choosing our top floss picks
Before You Buy: 8 Things to Consider When Purchasing Floss Picks
There aren’t a lot of differences between the many floss picks available today, perhaps because they’re still fairly new when compared to other types of floss. There are, however, a few things to think about while you’re shopping for floss pick:
1. Disposable or refillable?
Disposable picks are meant to use only once, or at most, a few times before you toss them out. Like disposable razors, most come in a package with several floss picks. Refillable picks, on the other hand, feature heads that allow you to remove the floss and replace it with a fresh strand.
2. The handles
Some floss picks come with no-slip grip handles that make them easier to hold. It’s a nice option to have, including if you have issues with manual dexterity.
3. High tech or no-tech?
There are battery-powered floss picks available that not only remove debris and plaque from between your teeth, but also massage the gums.
What’s on the bottom of the pick?
Many dental floss picks come with an ending that comes to a point and acts as a toothpick. Some even have an area that acts as a tongue scraper.
4. The shape
Dental floss picks typically come in two shapes: curved and flat. A flat floss pick looks like a harp but is harder to use in the back of your mouth.
6. The thickness of the floss
You may not have the luxury of choosing the thickness of the floss when buying disposable dental picks, but if you do (and if you use a refillable pick) choose a thicker floss if you have larger gaps between your teeth than normal.
7. Waxed or unwaxed
Waxed floss is easier to use if the spaces between your teeth are tighter, and if you have braces or other dental work. But many other users prefer unwaxed.
8. Look for ADA approval
Make sure that the floss you choose has the American Dental Association seal of approval. That means the ADA reviewed the product and deemed it effective and safe.
Now let’s take a look at what we think are the best floss picks of 2018.
6 Best Floss Picks 2018
Tight teeth require tough floss. With DenTek’s Complete Clean Floss Picks – the best floss picks for tight teeth and our favorite for the best picks overall – you can floss between even the tightest of tight spaces.
What’s more, DenTek’s Complete Clean picks have stronger handles, which is a plus when dealing with tight spaces, as well as floss that’s guaranteed not to break – an even bigger plus. Most of us understand the frustration that comes with breaking floss between our teeth and having to A) start over, and B) get the stuck piece of broken floss out from between our teeth.
That said, DenTek Complete Clean picks aren’t just for people with tight teeth because everyone will benefit from using them. The floss is textured, with a unique criss-cross thread, and designed to pick up plaque and bits of food that stay stuck between your teeth.
The pick is flexible, which allows you to reach hard-to-get areas – always something to consider when choosing a floss pick – and also features a tongue scraper that allows you to remove surface debris.
While one would think that floss that’s guaranteed not to break would be a bit on the rough side, the DenTek floss is smooth and glides easily between your teeth. Just use a simple in-and-out motion to remove plaque and debris.
DenTek’s floss picks also have a cool, minty flavor that leaves your mouth feeling. Each pack comes with 90 floss picks.
- Super-strong floss
- Easy to maneuver between teeth
- Great for tight spaces
- Not many, although some reviewers didn’t find the tongue scraper all that helpful
The DenTek Complete Clean floss pick is for people with tight spaces between their teeth but also for anyone who is looking for a thorough cleaning that removes even the most stubborn plaque and other debris.
Breakage, or lack of breakage, that is, is a key selling point for makers of dental floss picks. It’s one of the reasons to give Glide’s floss picks a closer look, but also one of many.
Oral-B is no newcomer to the floss game and they’ve put a lot of research and technology into their products, including their Glide Pro-Health dental picks. The Pro-Health picks represent a step up from previous versions and are among the best floss picks for tight teeth.
According to Oral-B, the Glide Picks floss has a 90% more textured surface area than before but is still smooth enough to fit between the tightest areas of your teeth to remove plaque and food particles. The picks are also said to slide twice as easily between tight teeth than before.
That’s a pretty good starting point for any dental floss pick, but there’s more.
For one, the Oral-B floss picks come with Glide’s clinically-proven protection against gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath and are a key addition to any comprehensive dental plan.
For another, you control the tension by squeezing the pick so it slides easily between teeth. You simply squeeze the floss to get it between the spaces, then let up to reach more tooth surface.
The floss is also shred-resistant, as mentioned, with users saying that had to apply serious pressure just to get it to break intentionally.
Users and reviewers also say that they’re able to difficult-to-clean places in the mouth, such as the rear of the mouth, because of the shape and size of the pick. Again, you can adjust the tension of the floss by squeezing on the pick’s handle.
There’s also a pick on the other side of the floss that’s helpful for removing larger food particles, as well as for gently scraping against the teeth or gumline.
Oral-B’s Glide floss picks come in a package of 30 picks (and in a resealable bag).
- Great for flossing tight spaces between teeth
- Protect against gingivitis and cavities
- Some reviewers say the floss sometimes catches between their teeth
Oral-B customers have long sung the praises of Glide’s floss products and the Pro-Health Dental Floss picks are no exception. The floss is very strong and you’re able to maneuver the pick in and out of tight spaces.
Plackers created the first dental flosser which earned a patent over 40 years ago. They’ve obviously come a long way since then – not that the first flosser was a bad product, mind you – and their Micro Mint Dental Flossers are among the best floss picks available.
They’re also among the strongest.
One of the key features of Plackers’ Micro Mint Dental Flossers is that their floss consists of Super Tuffloss, which is engineered never to break and considered to among the strongest floss on the shelves. Not only won’t it break, but it won’t shed or stretch. Some say it’s so tough that it’s tough to cut with scissors.
The people at Plackers say that Super Tuffloss is only available in pick form because it’s too slippery to hold with your fingers and use in the traditional between-the-fingers way.
The floss, perhaps because of its slipperiness, slides easily between teeth to reach even the hardest-to-reach plaque and food particles while massaging the gums. The floss’s mint flavor leaves your mouth and gums feeling refreshed.
If you’re on the go and without access to your toothbrush, the Plackers’ flosser is a good option because of how easily it gets rid of food particles while refreshing your mouth.
The flosser also includes a toothpick that folds out from the handle and then folds back in to protect it when not in use.
Plackers’ products are manufactured by Placontrol, said to be the world’s largest manufacturer of dental floss. They put a lot of time, money, and research into their products while always striving to improve their existing floss products. They also work with dental professionals and pharmacies to raise awareness of regular flossing and preventive dental care.
Plackers sells five other flosser styles:
- Whitening Flosser with a right angle design
- GentleSlide Flosser that slides smoothly between sensitive gums and tight teeth
- GentleFine Flosser that includes a softer high-performance floss that especially gentle on gums (and also come with a fold-away pick)
- OrthPick Flosser that features a thin flosser arm that slides between teeth and wires associated with braces and bridgework.
- A KidsFlosser that comes in a fluoride-coated mixed berry flavor
Plackers also makes toothbrushes designed for children who are first learning to brush their teeth on their own, as well as night protectors that protect against night-time teeth grinding.
- Made of extra-strength Tuffloss
- Glide easily between teeth
- Made by a company that specializes in floss
- Some reviewers say the mint flavor doesn’t last long
It’s hard to beat the Plackers Micro Mint Dental Flossers for all-around dental care, as well as all-around strength. You’re able to floss your entire mouth with one flosser and they’re great if you’re out and about and without access to a toothbrush.
One of the things that set FAMILIFE Dental floss picks apart from the others is that is its floss thread. The thread consists of Ultra-High Molecular Weight Polyethylene (UHMWPE) that is said to be finer, slipperier, and tougher than most floss strings.
FAMILIFE’s floss also causes less friction – which means less potential damage to your teeth – and has a silky, comfortable feeling that’s more akin to floss tape than traditional string floss.
The FAMILIFE floss picks also come with a sturdy handle that’s easy to grip and doesn’t slip through your fingers while providing all of the support you need.
While you may not have heard of FAMILIFE, at least not to the extent that you’ve probably heard of Oral-B and others, it’s a major producer of dental floss and has approval from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. They distribute their products worldwide.
Of course, we wouldn’t consider a floss pick for our best-of reviews if it didn’t help keep teeth clean while removing food and plaque. Rest assured, FAMILIFE’s floss provides thorough cleaning while the textured pick located at the bottom of the handle helps you get a deeper clean between teeth while stimulating your gums.
FAMILIFE Unflavored Dental Floss Picks also come with a handy travel case so you can use them while on the go.
- High-quality floss made of polymer
- Easy-to-manage handle
- Removes stubborn food particles
- Floss is a bit thick for some users
FAMILIFE’s floss picks represent high quality and superb engineering and manufacturing. The floss is one-of-a-kind that provides a thorough cleaning of the teeth and gums.
You could say that the piece of floss is the most important part of the floss pick and not get much of an argument in return. But don’t forget about the handle.
The folks at GUM certainly haven’t, as evidenced by the thought and engineering they put into the handles of their Professional Clean Flossers. The result is a handle that’s easier to grip, that has a widened finger rest for further comfort, and is easy to maneuver within your mouth as floss from tooth to tooth.
You’re also able to hold the floss at the right tension while sliding into position in your teeth and under your gumline. It’s no wonder why the GUM Professional Clean Flossers get hundreds of positive reviews.
Of course, the handle is only so good if the floss doesn’t hold up to a high standard, and GUM’s floss passes every test. Their floss has a satin-like finish that slides easily between the teeth and doesn’t break easily. And, as good floss should, it protects your teeth against plaque and other bacteria that can lead to gingivitis and other dental problems.
Another reason we include this floss pick on our list is that the handle makes flossing easier for people who wear braces, have bridgework, or other types of dental work. If you wear braces, or your child does, you understand the challenge of flossing around dental work. Toothbrushes take care of some of the heavy lifting, as does traditional string floss, but there are all kinds of nooks and crannies where bacteria can hide.
For some people with braces, the challenge of flossing thoroughly sometimes becomes so heavy that they begin to consider whether they should floss at all. Not to fear, however, because tools such as the GUM Professional Clean Flossers can help, thanks in part to the pick end of the handle that helps dislodge food particles between tight teeth.
- Easy to grip handle
- Among the best floss picks for braces
- The floss is strong and shred-resistant
- Some say the floss sags after one usage
GUM flossers make flossing easier and work well for people with braces and other dental work. It’s simply a good all-around flosser that’s worth your investment.
You may have read recently about large areas – and “large” is an understatement – areas of the ocean floor covered in plastic. Plastic is everywhere, it seems, and the planet may be telling us that it can only hold so much of it.
Because most floss picks, and regular floss containers and dozens of other dental products, are made of plastic, it’s not a stretch to suggest that they’re part of the problem. Fortunately, Australia-based PearlBar offers an eco-friendly solution.
PearlBar’s Planet-Loving Charcoal floss picks are made from biodegradable materials – including charcoal-infused floss – that break down naturally without adding to the acres of plastic already out there.
They’re also good for your teeth and, environmental-friendliness notwithstanding, is a big part of the reason that they’re on our list.
First, the floss has a wax covering that adds extra strength to prevent the floss from shedding or breaking. It’s also charcoal-infused, which may sound odd, but you’ll find activated charcoal in a variety of grooming and hygiene products.
Charcoal is good for your oral health because it enhances blood circulation, detoxifies and deodorizes your mouth, and stimulates the gums to help prevent cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath. Moreover, the charcoal used in PearlBar’s Planet-Loving picks is antibacterial and also helps whiten teeth.
Finally, the activated charcoal contains no toxins that are harmful to your mouth or body and doesn’t contain chemicals that you find in many dental products.
The floss holder also includes silk bamboo, another material that’s easily biodegradable, while the even package it comes in biodegradable. You simply plant the entire lot into the soil when finished and nature takes care of the rest (PearlBar says that all of it will biodegrade completely in six months).
Each package contains 30 packs and the floss has natural mint flavoring. In short, all of PearlBar’s products are 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
- Biodegradable floss picks
- Freshens breath
- Activated charcoal is good for overall oral health
- Some reviewers say floss isn’t durable enough
If you’re looking for an eco-friendly option for dental floss picks, then PearlBar’s floss picks are worth a serious look. You’ll keep your teeth and mouth healthy and the planet happy.
Using a Floss Pick: How it’s Done
In some ways, using a floss pick is easier than using traditional dental floss. After all, you don’t have to wrap a length of floss around your finger and create a new, fresh length after you’ve flossed a couple of teeth.
Instead, picks hold the floss for you, which is a great convenience and helpful if you have limited hand dexterity due to arthritis or other health issues. And there’s nothing overly complicated about using them. Here the best way to floss with floss picks:
Hold the floss stick between your fingers with a firm grip to keep it from slipping. Some picks come with handles that making it easier to hold them.
Move the floss between your teeth with a gentle up and down motion. Don’t use too much force or you may cause soreness and bleeding gums. Use a gentle sawing motion as you work from one tooth to the next instead.
Let the floss wrap around your teeth while curving up into your gum line. Again, don’t force the floss up and into your gums, but use a motion that’s firm enough to remove plaque without irritating the tissue.
Don’t reuse your traditional floss pick! Sure, it’s tempting to use your pick more than once as a way to make your supply last longer but it’s not a good idea. Bacteria and plaque build up on the floss and you’ll re-introduce them to your mouth if you use your pick multiple times. Floss holders, however, are reusable because you’re threading your floss into the pick.
What’s the Difference? Floss Picks vs. Dental Floss vs. Water Flosser
String floss used to be the only game in town – or, at least the predominant one – before floss picks and water flossers gained popularity. Let’s not forget dental tape, either.
Dentists say they’re often asked what method is best, string floss or water floss. Some will answer by saying that whatever method works best for you and your teeth. All of them say it’s important to floss no matter what method you use.
We’ve already talked at length about floss picks and what they are – a small, plastic device with a piece of dental floss threaded through its opening. They’re a newer kind of interdental cleaner but they’ve become popular because of their ease of use.
There’s no question that floss picks have many advantages that make them a good alternative to traditional string floss, including:
- A flosser pick’s plastic handle makes it easier to hold and eliminates the need to wind and rewind the floss around your finger as you do with traditional string floss.
- Flosser picks are portable and easy to keep in the office, in your purse, etc. Then again, traditional floss isn’t exactly hard to carry with you.
- Floss picks are a good option for people who don’t have much dexterity in their hands because of arthritis or other issues.
- Many floss picks come with a pick at the end that’s also useful for clearing away plaque and food particles lodged between your teeth. Some products even come with a pick that folds outward from the plastic housing.
- Some users – and dental experts – say it’s easier to use floss picks to reach your back teeth than it is with string floss.
- You can find floss picks made for children, which is a good way to get kids interested in flossing at a young age.
Are there drawbacks to using dental picks? There are, just as there are drawbacks to using traditional string floss and water flossers:
- Floss picks may not be as thorough as string floss for removing food particles and other debris from between your teeth.
- Floss picks may be a bit harsh on the sensitive gum tissue. You need to be gentler when using floss picks.
- Many floss picks are made from disposable plastic and therefore not as eco-friendly.
- Using a single floss pick for your entire mouth may simply redistribute particles and bacteria from one area of your mouth to the other. Unless you switch to another pick, you’ll use the same small segment of floss over and over again.
That’s not to say floss picks aren’t a good choice. Many people use them with good results and any dental professional will tell you that it doesn’t matter how you floss, as long as you do it.
Most of us understand the importance of flossing and have since we were children, and for most of us the image of a small, plastic container of string floss comes to mind. By now, miles upon miles of string floss has helped keep the world’s gums healthy.
Here’s the scoop regarding string floss:
- Flossing with string floss involves passing a thin piece of string between the teeth. The floss scrapes up and down the surface of each tooth to remove plaque and food particles, as well as under the gums.
- String floss is fairly easy to use, although at some point in your life you may have had a hygienist or dentist tell you that you were flossing incorrectly (probably because, like most of us, you’re in a hurry or aren’t flossing enough).
- String floss, like floss picks, doesn’t require a power source other than your hands. Water flossers either plug into electrical outlets or, in the case of faucet flossers, rely on your home’s water supply.
- String floss, in general, takes more time to use than a water flosser and floss pick, if you’re flossing the correct way, that is.
- Flossing with string is often difficult for people with dexterity issues or have problems with their hands caused by arthritis, etc.
- People with sensitive gums may find that string floss is too harsh and often painful.
- Individuals with braces may have a hard time dislodging food particles from their braces.
- It can be difficult for some users of string floss to thoroughly clean between the teeth in the backs of their mouth.
While water flossers may seem like a relatively new phenomenon, the first one was introduced in 1962. They’ve certainly come a long way since then and the number of people who use them is growing.
- Water flossing involves a machine-like device, or a faucet attachment, that directs a stream of water on your teeth and gums. The pressure of the water removes plaque and debris from the teeth and gums, unlike with the scraping motion of string floss.
- The gentler pressure of the water helps make water flossing a nice alternative to string floss for people with sensitive gums or other dental issues. The massaging action of water flossing may even improve gum health.
- Flossing takes less time with a water flosser, although that doesn’t mean you should rush through the job.
- While string flossing may cause minor bleeding of the gums, water flossing uses a more gentle cleaning action.
- While the technique of water flossing is much different than string flossing, most users find water flossers easy to use and adapt to them after only a few uses. Some water flossers even come with built-in sensors that let you know when you’ve sufficiently flossed an area of your teeth and gums.
- Water flossing isn’t as convenient as string flossing. A piece of string vs. a machine you place on your countertop? You get the picture.
- Water flossing is easily the most expensive option among floss picks, string floss, and dental tape.
There’s not much of a need to talk about dental tape in great detail because of its similarities with traditional string floss. In short, dental tape is a flatter, stretchier version of string floss and preferred by some people because they feel it slides more easily between their teeth. Others say it doesn’t snap as harshly against the gums as string floss.
So, what’s the verdict? Floss picks? String floss? Water flossers? Dental tape?
First, keep something in mind: dental professionals want you to floss whether you use a floss pick, string floss, floss tape, a water flosser, or all of the above. Not flossing isn’t an option, and they have a ton of research – and rotting and falling-out teeth – to back them up.
Research does show, in some cases that water flossing works more effectively than string flossing for removing plaque while preventing gingivitis and bleeding gums.
In one study published in the Journal of Clinical Dentistry, researchers found that people who used a water flosser in combination with a manual toothbrush had a 17% greater reduction in plaque compared to those who used string floss and a toothbrush.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use string floss or floss picks or dental tape. On the contrary, floss picks and string floss is an effective way to clean your teeth and gums of the debris your toothbrush can’t reach. If string floss represents your primary method, just make sure you’re doing it as effectively as possible.
Our Reasons For Choosing Our Top Floss Picks
We chose the above floss picks for our best-of reviews for a variety of reasons, including – of course – how effective they are for removing plaque and debris from the mouth. That’s the name of the game, after all.
Other factors we considered include ease-of-use (some reach harder-to-get areas of the mouth better than others), as well as the quality of floss. Floss that shred or broke easily fell off of our list quickly. We also considered the handle and how easy it is to hold, and any additional features such as a toothpick included at the bottom of the handle.
Finally, we studied the reviews of others, particularly the reviews of customers.
Do you have a favorite floss pick? Have you tried any on your list? As always, we’d love to hear from you and welcome your comments and suggestions.