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- Flossing daily is crucial to removing disease-causing plaque but many choose to skip the important habit because it’s uncomfortable or awkward.
- Innovative products like reusable, silicone floss and water flossers can make flossing less time consuming, less painful, and easier for people with dexterity issues.
- Our top pick, the Sonicare Airfloss Pro/Ultra Interdental Cleaner, uses bursts of air and microdroplets of water to remove 99.9% of plaque between the teeth without ever having to put your fingers in your mouth.
- This article was medically reviewed by André V. Ritter, DDS, MS, MBA, PhD, Professor and Chair of the Department of Cariology & Comprehensive Care at NYU Dentistry.
One–third of Americans lie to their dentist about how much they floss, and it’s time to come clean. Instead of pretending we love to floss and do it every day, let’s acknowledge the plaque-filled holes in our stories: Flossing is, at minimum, annoying for some and downright unbearable for others — yet it’s also essential for preventing gum disease.
Even if you’re a loyal brusher, brushing only cleans your teeth. Flossing gets rid of plaque build-up that a brush can’t reach, thereby preventing a multitude of health issues resulting from said plaque. If you aren’t flossing once per day or more, you may face bone structure issues, periodontal disease (better known as gum disease), cavities, painful dental procedures, and even tooth loss.
And yet, people find flossing such a pain that 14 percent of Americans said they’d rather clean a toilet than run the white string between their teeth, according to the American Academy of Periodontology.
The excuses for not flossing range from bizarre to incredibly valid: It’s awkward, painful, smells funny, feels funny, causes bleeding, and is difficult to do. Fifty-five percent of people found it too “time-consuming” in a 2017 survey conducted by Waterpik and the American Dental Association.
But luckily, there are alternatives to traditional floss that many dentists say work just as well at getting rid of plaque that can help even the most frustrated anti-flosser. Something as simple as switching over to a more soothing and flavored string floss like Cocofloss may be enough to make the daily habit easier. Meanwhile, clever inventions like the water flosser can be just as effective at nixing plaque without the typical drawbacks.
To help anyone unenthusiastic about flossing, we tested a variety of alternatives, from actual floss with extra features to those that replace the string with water, air, or other materials. The products featured below can be used to completely replace flossing, even if you don’t floss at all, though some dentists assert nothing is quite as good as the real (read: annoying and painful) thing.
Here are the best products to help keep teeth healthy and plaque-free for reluctant flossers:
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