If you don’t like using dental floss or find it difficult to manipulate, several inexpensive alternatives are available that do the same plaque-removing job:
- Floss picks are single-use gadgets that feature a toothpick at one end and a small, taut piece of floss stretched between two small arms at the other.
- An interdental brush has tiny bristles (much thinner than on a toothbrush) that can clean between teeth. They come in different shapes and sizes and are available in single-use or reusable versions.
- The wooden Stim-U-Dent Plaque Remover looks a bit like a triangular toothpick, with a flat end and a pointed end. The moisture from your saliva softens the wood, allowing you to run it between and over your teeth and along the gumline.
- A dental rubber tip stimulator has a handle with a replaceable pointed rubber tip at one end. The flexible point makes it especially good for cleaning along the gumline, but unless you have very widely spaced teeth, it's likely too thick to get between all of them (so it can’t really stand alone as a floss alternative but could be paired with one of the other products).
With any of the products, don’t force them between your teeth, and consult your dentist first about which to use if you have implants, bridges, or very tightly spaced teeth.
This article first appeared in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter.
Also see Your Dental Checkup.