You’ve heard that flossing is a crucial part of dental hygiene, but it’s a task that can pose some extra challenges if you have braces. Fortunately, the best floss for braces, as well as other flossing tools, can make interdental cleaning a little bit easier.
That's why having the right tools at your disposal matters — a lot. “Using floss on teeth with braces is difficult and frustrating,” Dr. Eunjung Jo, DDS, told Bustle in an interview. “Sliding the floss between the teeth above the wire is a bit like threading a needle.”
Dr. Christopher J. Rouse, DMD, agrees. “The average person struggles with flossing as it is,” he explained. “When someone gets braces, it adds a new barrier that often is difficult for them to overcome.”
However, it's important not to skip flossing, even when braces complicate the task. Dr. Steffany Mohan, DDS, explained to Bustle, "The bacteria present in the plaque can erode the teeth and irritate gums as they digest the sugars in food and produce acids. This leads to cavities and white spots on the teeth and also bad breath."
So everyone agrees that flossing is both important and a challenge when you have braces — but what kind of floss should someone with braces actually buy? In terms of traditional floss, Dr. Jo recommends a waxed floss, which is less likely to shred, or to mess with the wire of your braces. To help get traditional floss around the wires, both Dr. Jo and Dr. Rouse recommend using a floss threader. Floss threaders can take some time to use, but Dr. Jo likes them because they’re inexpensive tools that enable you to get the floss above the wire and reach the gum line. If you aren't feeling the floss threaders, there are also products that don’t require manually threading, such as floss with built-in threaders and orthodontic floss picks. And if the threading floss between your braces is too frustrating a task, you might want to opt for an electric water flosser.
"If you are just starting the 'flossing with braces journey,' don't give up,” said Dr. Rouse. “Initially, it will take some time to do it correctly, but keep at it and it will get faster and faster.” He added, “People who ignore their dental hygiene during orthodontic treatment often have to deal with a lifetime of cavity-susceptible teeth or cosmetic issues."
With all this in mind, I’ve put together this list of the best floss and flossing tools for braces. From standard floss to electric water picks, here are products to meet your every flossing need.
1. The Best Traditional Floss For Braces
"Standard dental floss, in general, is regarded as the most effective tool for cleaning the tight spaces between your teeth," said Dr. Mohan.
This particular floss, Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Deep Clean, has a thin layer of natural wax to help keep it from shredding. Several Amazon reviewers mentioned using this floss with braces and one wrote, “This is the best dental floss. My son has braces as well, and these work SO much better with the brace floss tool. And for me none of the breakage of floss stuck in my teeth.”
Before you buy, however, keep in mind that if you have braces, traditional floss isn't going to work on its own — it has to be paired with a floss threader. So scroll on for the best floss threader which make this traditional floss a viable option for people with braces.
2. The Best Floss Threaders To Use With Traditional Floss
DenTek floss threaders work kind of like a large needle: Pull the threader under the wire, thread the traditional floss, and gently pull it through. You can use it with any kind of traditional floss you like, and the floss threaders come in a plastic case that’s easy to pack away for traveling.
One Amazon reviewer says, “I have braces and flossing my teeth is a part of my daily routine. I have tried various threaders and keep coming back to these ones.”
3. The Best Floss Strands With Built-In Threaders
Not one but two dentists I interviewed mentioned Oral-B Super Floss, and it's also very popular on Amazon. Super Floss is “highly recommended,” according to Dr. Jo.
Dr. Rouse added: "Floss threaders take a lot of time to use. A better option is something similar to Super Floss by Oral B. (Think a short piece of fishing line that is attached directly to the end of a yarn-type floss which is attached directly to the end of traditional floss). The 'fishing line' part of the floss is generally fairly easy to get beneath the orthodontic wires and allows what I believe to be the most effective type of flossing.”
If you prefer a thinner floss, some reviewers suggest Oral-B Glide Threader Floss instead.
4. The Best Orthodontic Flossers
If you're already accustomed to using a floss pick instead of traditional floss, Platypus Orthodontic Flossers For Braces are a great option. There's no threading involved — just slide the floss pick under your braces to clean.
"If you are hooked on handheld disposable flossers, then you should look for a Platypus type flosser. It has a flat edge that will slide under the orthodontic wire and allow you to clean where you need to,” said Dr. Rouse.
5. The Best Water Flosser/Oral Irrigator For Braces
Water picks, like the WaterPik Aquarius water flosser, provide yet another option if flossing is too difficult. According to Dr. Mohan, this kind of device is also known as an "oral pulsating irrigator" and is "a device that aims a stream of water at your teeth."
Dr. Rouse notes that "there is no substitute for mechanical flossing," but pointed out that if you're simply not going to floss mechanically, a water pick can help you remove bigger particles from between your teeth. Dr. Jo highly recommends the WaterPik brand in particular.
It can be a bit messy to learn how to use a water pick, but it’s relatively simple once you have the hang of it. I bought a WaterPik a couple of years ago to use interchangeably with traditional floss, and I find it to be unbelievably easy to use. If this WaterPik model seems too big for your space or you’d like to test a cheaper model before you invest, check out these more compact cordless water flossers instead.
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Eunjung Jo, DDS, Dentist at Astor Smile Dental
Steffany Mohan, DDS, Owner of Urbandale Smiles
Christopher J. Rouse, DMD, Dentist at Flatrock Family Dentistry