A regular, adequately performed Oral hygiene forms the basis of dental and oral health. Deposits in the form of Plaque (soft coverings) or Tartar (hard coverings) can sooner or later have an enormously bad influence on the tooth substance Gums and the Jawbone exercise.

Plaque generally constitutes a tough bio-film, which consists on the one hand of waste products of the bacterial metabolism and on the other hand of food residues.
This soft coating adheres to the finest grooves on the tooth surface and in many cases even penetrates under the gumline. There it sits on and around the tooth rootl and sometimes causes deep gum pockets. If these soft deposits are not removed or only insufficiently removed over a longer period of time, they harden and turn into tartar.

Tartar is a solid deposit on the tooth surface. These can neither through the use of rinsing solutions nor through the Brushing your teeth can remove. These solid coverings are created by the storage of special inorganic ingredients Salivathat cling to the soft plaque. Especially in the area of ​​the ducts of the salivary glands (Lower tongues and parotid gland) accumulate tartar.

In the Dentistry one speaks of so-called predilection sites. These places include the inside of the lower front teeth (Incisors) and the outside of the upper jaw - Molars (Molars). Since, above all, the sinking of solid plaque below the gumline leads to the development of inflammatory processes and both the gums (consequence: Inflammation of the gums, Receding gums), as well as the jawbone (consequence: bone loss) can cause lasting damage, extensive oral hygiene is essential.

Using a toothbrush however, alone is generally not sufficient to remove all plaque from the tooth surface.

This fact is due to the fact that the bristles of the toothbrush can hardly or not at all reach some places. Pronounced misaligned teeth and / or Crown and bridges reinforce this problem. For this reason, in addition to the "usual" oral hygiene, at least once a day (preferably in the evening) Interdental brush (Interdental brush) or for Floss be grasped.

By using these tools, hard-to-reach bottlenecks, nested areas and crown and bridge edges can be adequately cleaned.

Dental floss types

For production of Floss two different materials are generally used:

On the one hand, manufacturers use nylon for the production of one or more thread floss, on the other hand so-called PTFE threads often application.
Products containing nylon are manufactured both in waxed and unwaxed form. Nylon floss is also produced in several flavors. The disadvantage of multi-threaded dental floss is that it can easily fray and / or tear while cleaning the interstices. This problem is especially true for very narrow interdental spaces. On the other hand, offer the single thread PTFE- They have the advantage that they slide particularly easily between the teeth and also in very narrow interdental spaces (Interdental spaces) are practically tear-resistant.
Correct handling by the user is always essential for evaluating a dental floss. Under this assumption, both the nylon-containing and the PTFE dental floss are ideally suited for removing soft deposits in the form of plaque from the tooth surface. The use of so-called is recommended for patients with very wide interdental spaces Superfloss floss, as this can take up a larger space between the teeth to be cleaned.

Benefits of waxed dental floss

Waxed dental floss is coated with a thin layer of PTFE, which consists of either Teflon or Gore-Tex. This coating ensures that the floss in general softer feels and is easier to insert into the interdental space when used. Recommendable this type of floss is special with sensitive gumswhich tends to bleeding and irritation, as the silk in the interdental space glides gently along the tooth walls without irritating or even injuring the gums.

Another advantage is that the waxed version of the dental floss is more resistant than the unwaxed one, so it does not tear as quickly and split into the individual fibers. Therefore, the dental floss cannot get caught in a space between the teeth so quickly and always slides out of the interdental space well. Furthermore, the waxed dental floss is demonstrably just as good and effective as the unwaxed one in terms of cleaning power. Which dental floss is better for the respective user is a matter of taste.

Advantages of the unwaxed floss

Unwaxed dental floss is one of the most popular ways to clean interdental spaces. Because the floss is not coated, it is more solid and does not slip out of your fingers so easily. It can be guided better and inserted quickly into the interdental space. Due to its fibrous nature, it removes even food residues that are heavily wedged without the user having to use much force.

The unwaxed dental floss is well suited for relatively large interdental spaces to clean there thoroughly. If the gaps are very small, there is a risk that the floss will be divided into its fibers or even tear. In general, the unwaxed dental floss cleans just as well and thoroughly as the waxed one, which has been proven in scientific studies. Thus, the use is purely a matter of taste and users should try out which dental floss is the easiest and most comfortable to use.

Dental floss without fluoride

The fluoride on the dental floss is not crucial for cleaning and, given the short contact time between the silk and the interdental space, has no chance of having a positive effect on the enamel. Therefore, a floss without fluoride is considered to be just as effective and good as a fluoridated one.

Are there dental floss for children?

There are dental floss and dental floss sticks for children with colorful motifs that make sense to use when getting started. As a parent, you can help the children by making loops in the floss that the children can insert their fingers into to hold the floss themselves. The children, together with their parents, can guide the floss into the respective interdental spaces.

Does it make sense to use dental floss in children?

As soon as all milk teeth are present and food particles can get caught between the teeth, the use of dental floss in children is recommended. Full deciduous teeth are present at 2.5 years of age. In the beginning, the parents still have to help the children with the application. At the latest when the first permanent teeth appear at the age of 6, the use of dental floss is a must every day in order to prevent the formation of caries between the teeth and to ensure that the permanent teeth are preserved for as long as possible.

Use dental floss

Using the floss

Basically, flossing is child's play. However, to the effectiveness of the Teeth cleaning To optimize dental floss and prevent damage to the gums, small tips help.

At the beginning should be about 45 to 60 cm Dental floss can be removed from the storage box. Some manufacturers even offer dental floss that is sold in the appropriate length from the start.
Then one end of the floss should be wrapped around the middle or index finger two to three times. The other end is wrapped around the middle or index finger of the opposite hand until the outstretched thumbs of both hands touch.
For use, the dental floss should be pulled as taut as possible.
The addition of the thumb can make it easier to establish proper tension.

The dental floss is then loosely inserted into the spaces between the teeth under gentle pressure. In most cases this can be done easily from the upper end of the Dental crown off, in patients whose teeth are supplied with a retainer, the dental floss can be threaded between the teeth at the lower edge (In general, however, it is recommended for these patients to switch to interdental brushes because they are easier to use).
The interstices are then cleaned (Interdental spaces) by gently moving the floss back and forth for about 2.5 to 5 cm. In the meantime, care must be taken to ensure that the dental floss is guided close to the tooth surface and also gets under the gingival margin. This process should be performed on both the right and left tooth.

It is important to ensure that under no circumstances should force or excessive pressure be used, as this can lead to cuts within the gums or small bruises. As soon as the thread of silk between the fingers shows visible dirt, the used section must be rolled up on the finger and replaced with a new something 2.5 to 5 cm long piece to be replaced. The floss is also removed by gently moving the thread back and forth in the direction of the tooth crown. For patients with a retainer, the dental floss must be carefully pulled forward out of the space.

How long can you floss?

Dental floss should be removed from the entire oral cavity immediately after a single use as the bacteria will adhere to the floss. If the dental floss that has already been used is used again, the bacteria would be reintroduced into the oral cavity and especially into the spaces between the teeth. Furthermore, there is a risk that the dental floss will tear earlier, as it has already been stressed and is therefore no longer as resistant.

How do you use dental floss on braces?

For braces, it is advisable to use a waxed dental floss or a dental floss designed for pontics with a taut end. This allows the floss to be inserted underneath the wire and to clean the gaps with gentle movements up and down. The application is purely a matter of practice, which seems quite difficult at the beginning. However, if the user does not get along well with the dental floss and the wire, fine interdental brushes can also be used to clean the interdental spaces below the wire.

The use of a floss is particularly suitable: it has a reinforced end for threading underneath the wire and a thick, fluffy middle section that can effectively remove the plaque.

Read more on the topic: Cleaning the braces

Use dental floss before or after brushing your teeth?

The floss can be used before or after brushing your teeth. Nevertheless, the use before brushing has the advantage that the particles loosened by the dental floss are finally completely removed with the toothbrush. If the dental floss is used after brushing, bacteria are loosened within the food particles that the toothbrush could not reach. These bacteria are back in the oral cavity, although everything has already been cleaned. In this case it would be advisable to use a mouthwash.

Should floss be used in the morning or in the evening?

The recommendation is to floss daily, but it would be best to use it in the morning and evening. Since the flow of saliva is interrupted at night, people physiologically often have bad breath in the morning, which is why it makes sense to use dental floss in the morning to remove the unpleasant smelling residues from the interdental spaces. In addition, it is important to remove all food residues from the teeth in the evening, as night is the phase in which the tooth enamel remineralizes and regenerates. If food residues are metabolized by bacteria in the interdental spaces at night, the resulting acids have a slight leeway to attack the tooth enamel and thus cause tooth decay.

How often should floss be used?

It is most effective to use dental floss after every meal to free the spaces between the teeth of food particles and to keep the acid load in the mouth as minimal as possible. Since flossing is a big task in everyday life after every snack on the go, the recommendation is to use dental floss in the morning and in the evening before going to bed. This frequency is completely sufficient to ensure a healthy oral cavity and intensive oral hygiene.

How do you prevent bleeding gums?

Many users with sensitive gums are discouraged from flossing by bleeding gums and pain. But it doesn't have to be. It is advisable to use a soft or ribbon-shaped floss instead of the conventional, tight, thread-shaped floss. This allows easier and gentler introduction into the interdental spaces without injuring or irritating them. The gums are only cleaned and can be used painlessly. The right technique is also crucial. The dental floss should be brought into the space by moving it slowly back and forth without much pressure and this should then be gently spread out so as not to irritate the gums.

Dental floss smells / stinks after use - what does that mean?

It is not uncommon for users to panic and worry as soon as they notice the strong smell of dental floss after use. But that is usually a normal, physiological condition. Especially after morning use, when everyone is prone to bad breath because less saliva is formed at night, the dental floss also takes over the unpleasant smelling residue from the spaces between the teeth. These food residues, some of which are already metabolized by bacteria, have an unpleasant smell, but are not pathological.

However, if the dental floss always smells very strong after use and a negative halitosis can generally be detected, a dentist should be consulted because it is one Periodontal disease can act. Periodontal disease is that generalized inflammation of the entire periodontium, in which certain types of bacteria lead to a very unpleasant smelling halitosis.

This bad breath is also perceived as very unpleasant by outsiders, so it is advisable to ask your partner or family member whether the bad breath has already been noticed. Also reasons for bad breath and the associated unpleasant smelling dental floss can be Caries, a inflamed root canal, or Sore throat and pharynx be. The person concerned is on the safe side if he has the cause clarified by a dentist in order to diagnose and treat a disease of any kind.

Floss test

Contrary to popular belief, not all dental floss is created equal. The products offered by the various manufacturers differ enormously in terms of both quality and effectiveness of tooth cleaning.
Different dental flosses also differ in their structure. The most commonly used dental floss consists of many thin threads that stick together.

In extensive tests, the cleaning effect and handling as well as the declaration and the instructions for use were evaluated. These tests made it clear that the quality of a good dental floss has absolutely no relation to the price of the product. It is therefore not always necessary to use the most expensive dental floss, cheap products sometimes even do much better.

With an average grade of Good (1.6) include the "Sensitiv Floss by Dontodent®" available from dm (Price about 1.50 euros), the “Sensitive dental floss from Perlodent®” offered by Rossmann (price approx. 1.40 euros), the “Easy Flossers Icy Mint® waxed from Sunstar GUM” among the dental flosses rated as the best.

In the area of ​​cleaning performance, all three products were rated “very good” (1.2). The handling was rated with the average grade “good” (2.0) and the declaration and instructions for use with the grade “good” (2.0).
In addition to the “normal” dental floss, there are also so-called superfloss dental floss, which have a thickened, softer structure in the middle area. In general, the Superfloss floss has three different areas:

  1. one Threading areawhich makes it much easier to introduce the product
  2. one Fleece thread and
  3. one Classic floss area.

Especially in places where strong Misaligned teeth or Nesting available, the threading area facilitates the application enormously. In the area of ​​the molars, the interdental spaces are generally a little wider, and the “normal” dental floss may not be able to develop sufficient cleaning power there. The additional piece of Superfloss dental floss can clean the tooth surface more effectively in these areas.

Dental floss sticks

To clean the Interdental spaces (Interdental spaces) a cleaning stick can also be used in addition to the normal floss. These sticks consist of a handle with an already clamped piece of dental floss about two to 5 cm long. These space cleaning aids have the advantage that many patients prefer them because of their ease of use.

The disadvantage of dental floss sticks is that they are much more expensive to purchase than normal dental floss. This can be attributed to the fact that the manufacture of the handle is complex and also expensive. In addition, you can only use a floss stick once, as soon as the silk thread is dirty, a new stick must be used immediately.
Ordinary dental floss can work on significantly more spaces between the teeth (Interdental spaces) can be used, as a soiled section can be exchanged directly by moving it. Whether the use of the dental floss sticks or normal dental floss for interdental care is more effective and more thorough cannot be answered directly. Dentists have very different opinions on this issue.
Ultimately, the user's preference should therefore decide which tool is used. However, the use of the dental floss sticks is not possible for patients with retainers, since they cannot be inserted past the stabilization wire into the interdental space. For this group of patients, so-called interdental brushes are an ideal alternative to dental floss.
These brushes come in several shapes (straight, fir tree...) and are becoming increasingly popular. This fact is due to the fact that handling is much easier compared to floss. In addition, the interdental space brushes are suitable for both very narrow and very wide interdental spaces due to the large number of brush head diameters offered. Especially patients whose denture With Crown and or bridges should seriously consider switching to an interdental brush.

What are the alternatives to floss?

For patients who cannot cope with flossing, there are other products that are easier to use. Primary dental floss sticks are to be mentioned in which dental floss is attached to a plastic shaft. On this shaft, the piece of dental floss can be better guided between the teeth. The dental floss sticks are single-use products and should be thrown away like dental floss after use in the oral cavity.

Furthermore, there are interdental brushes, which are available in different sizes for the respective width of the interdental space. The brushes are inserted into the interdental areas from the outside and remove any remaining food particles. They can be used several times as they are also dishwasher safe.

Another alternative is the electric oral irrigator, in which the pressure forces of individual water jets clean the spaces between the teeth. As the sole form of cleaning, the oral irrigator cannot replace the use of dental floss or interdental brushes, but only provide additional support, as it does not clean the interstices as efficiently. Users have to find out which aids they can best cope with and which application form seems suitable and easiest for them.

Toothpicks or toothpicks are generally not advisable, as they are usually too big for the interdental spaces and thus food can easily be pressed deeper into the pocket. Furthermore, the risk of injury with this aid is relatively high due to the pointed ends.

Dental floss is stuck - what to do?

If the dental floss has got caught in the interdental space, an attempt must be made to remove it. Sufferers can try a second piece of dental floss or an interdental brush. If the attempt to remove the floss from the space is unsuccessful, the dentist must be consulted. He manages to remove the piece of dental floss from the interdental space with dental instruments in any case. If this piece is left that way, the interdental space can become extremely inflamed and painful because the immune system reacts to the foreign body.

Is it dangerous to swallow floss?

In general, swallowing dental floss is not dangerous. Dental floss consists of plastics and silk and is therefore indigestible. It is excreted in the stool exactly as it was ingested and the components do not reach the bloodstream. The floss is eliminated after 48 hours at the latest. This means that there is no health risk if accidentally swallowed.