If you are a follower of our blog or if you’ve had your teeth cleaned any time within the past ten years you’ve been Fotolia_194988_XS-300x200told that flossing is incredibly important for dental and periodontal health. A common question about flossing that I receive is: Are there alternatives to traditional floss? And, can I use a Waterpik instead of floss?

  • Waterpik falls under the category of a water flosser. This device uses a stream of air and water to clear debris from between the teeth and around the gingival area. Another popular brand of water flosser is the Sonicare AirFloss.
  • Some studies show that there is little difference between effectiveness of water flossers vs. traditional floss
  • My professional opinion is that mechanical flossing when done correctly is more effective than using a water flosser. My first recommendation to the majority of patients is to use traditional floss.
  • However, effectiveness is contingent on flossing correctly. Many people do not floss correctly either because they were never taught how to, or lack the manual dexterity to do so. Flossing incorrectly although still helps to keep the teeth clean, can cause you to be less effective while flossing. And, may cause minor irritation to the gums.
  • Some patients who have had an injury or have a disability such as arthritis simply may not capable of flossing. Patients who can not floss at all or are causing more damage than good with traditional floss will show better results with a water flosser.
  • In general, if you are curious if a water flosser is appropriate for your home care we recommend  asking  your dentist or hygienist if a water flosser is a good option for you. They will evaluate you as well as teach you the best method to clean your teeth and gums.
Comparison of Irrigation to Floss as an Adjunct to Tooth Brushing: Effect on Bleeding, Gingivitis, and Supragingival Plaque; Barnes RDH; Russell DMD, PhD; Reinhardt DDS, PhD; Payne DDS, MDS; and,  Lyle RDS, MS Interdental Cleansing; Jacquelyn L. Fried, RDH, MS

Fotolia_194988_XS-300x200 The basics: Generally there are two types of floss: Rope and Tape.  They are either waxed or un-waxed. Tape: a flat string usually made of a smooth material: this is the type of floss that we recommend the most due to the ease of use between tight teeth and teeth with a lot of restorative work such as fillings and crowns. Rope: this is usually a braided or round string or rope that can be covered in wax or not, depending on your preference. I tend to avoid this type of floss due to the difficulty of use. Often times if you have tightly contacting teeth this type tends to fray or break more often than a tape will. Specialty floss and floss threaders: There are a series of flosses and floss threaders that are made specifically to be used around bridge work and braces. Super Floss is a brand that I recommend often for patients because it is a thick and spongy  floss with a flexible plastic end that is relatively easy to use underneath bridgework and around orthodontic brackets. Dental Flossers: these are small plastic handles with floss attached at the end, most often a rope type of floss. My opinion on floss threaders is, if you find that you can not or will not use any other type of floss then they can be used. But I rarely recommend them since you lack the ability to maneuver them around the teeth appropriately and can do a little damage to the gums if the patient is not careful when using them. Water pics and Air flossers: these are electric tools similar to an electric tooth brush that either use air or water to force debris out from in between teeth and out from under restorative work. My opinion on these tools is that while I believe that they have improved water pics and air flossers immensely in the past few years, they are an adjunct to the use of regular floss.  The use of regular dental floss is still the gold standard.]]>

basic-home-careAfter years in the dental office, I can tell you that it’s very rare to find a patient who goes more than 3 years without a cavity. Knowing that home care is one of the most important aspects of maintaining a healthy mouth, my partners and I set out on creating a home care regimen that’s relatively easy and will provide the results we are hoping to achieve, a decrease in cavities and improvement in overall oral health. The final breakthrough of my home care routine recommendations came while reading Dr. Ellie Phillips book Kiss Your Dentist Goodbye. During our daily care routine, we are mainly focusing on removing and repairing the damage we’ve already done during the day. Removing plaque mostly and strengthening enamel. However, Dr. Ellie’s book brings up a great point, we aren’t focusing on improving the overall environment of the mouth, more specifically saliva makeup. Combining both rationales, ours which focuses on mechanics and repair, and Dr. Ellie’s which focuses on reducing the saliva’s acidity and creating a healthier environment in the mouth, we created Frangella Dental’s basic home care regimen:

Part 1: Prepare & Clean

This portion of your home care focuses on the mechanical aspect of cleaning your mouth.  The first step is to prepare the right oral environment.  You can do this by using an oral rinse that creates a less acidic pH in your mouth. The product we recommend is CloSYS. We also recommend investing in a good electric tooth brush. Our favorite is the Sonicare tooth brush.  Find floss that works best for you. I generally recommend unwaxed tape varieties of floss as opposed to the rope type. The brand I recommend the most is Glide.

Part 2: Sanitize & Disinfect

Directly after brushing and flossing your teeth, the next step is to rinse with an antibacterial rinse. Our favorite product on the market is Listerine. After brushing your teeth, be sure to sanitize your tooth brush, you can do this by rinsing your brush in Listerine, then rinsing with water and allowing to air dry. Also, always store your toothbrush away from open toilets as well.

Part 3: Strengthen & Repair

This portion of home care helps keep your enamel strong and healthy. At night, as the last step of your home care, you should rinse with a fluoride rinse. We recommend ACT Total Care fluoride rinse. After you have rinsed with the fluoride rinse, do not rinse with water. Also, throughout the day, to give added protection, you can chew xylitol gum or use other 100% xylitol products.  You want to aim for about 6-10 grams a day of xylitol to get the best anticavity effects of this sugar substitute. To see all of Frangella Dental’s recommeded home care products, click here.]]>

Fotolia_194988_XS-300x200Picture this: You’re mere moments away from your regular dental visit, anticipating the question, “Have you been brushing and flossing regularly?” In an attempt to clean whatever might be lurking between your teeth before your hygienist or dentist catches you red-handed, you franticly brush and floss hours before your appointment. Once that dreaded questions comes, you give your answer, “Yes of course I do! All the time! I love flossing!,” but get the distinct feeling that they just don’t believe you. So, how do we dentists know if you’ve been flossing regularly? Being dentists, we can’t stress enough the importance of regular flossing in conjunction with brushing. Flossing is important to your gum and tooth health and when you don’t floss regularly, there are very apparent consequences. The most obvious is inflammation between the teeth. When you don’t floss regularly, plaque, bacteria, and debris sit between the teeth causing inflammation. As a result, your gums start to look pink, puffy and inflammed and bleed easily. The second give away is cavities forming between the teeth. Brushing your teeth, no matter how good and efficient you are at it, will not clean where the teeth meet. The only way to clean in that crucial spot is to floss. If you have any cavities or the beginning stages of cavities, it indicates that flossing is a weak point in your home care regimen. Lastly, the biggest and most obvious sign that a patient is not flossing regularly is cuts or abrasions on the gums, indicating that the patient may have just flossed or isn’t doing it correctly or efficiently. If you aren’t careful and don’t know you’re way around your teeth and mouth, it will show. The moral of the story is simple, make flossing a part of your daily regimen! The benefits to your oral health are tremendous.]]>