5 Alternatives to Flossing That Work Just as Good

written by TheFresh-Aid Team under
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Research from American Academy of Periodontology shows that more than 36% of Americans prefer to perform tedious tasks like washing dirty dishes or cleaning a toilet, rather than floss their teeth every day.

People hate flossing for some reason.

If you prefer to do your taxes than floss, you aren’t alone.

Here’s the good news.

There are alternatives to flossing you can try to make life easier. If you dread the long threaded floss that is difficult to tie around your finger and get in and out of your teeth, you are in the right place.

I’m going to share the best alternatives to flossing you can adopt to maintain healthy teeth, followed by information about flossing you didn’t know about.

toothpaste, toothbrush, floss and oral health kit bag

5 Flossing Alternatives that Work

1. Floss Picks

1 set of 3 floss picks

Who is it for?

Floss picks are excellent floss alternative if you are looking for something:

  1. Easy to carry
  2. Easy to use
  3. Find it difficult to use threaded floss

It’s the most practical as the floss threads are ready to go, it’s packed conveniently and you can use it without getting your fingers slimy from saliva.

You can find floss picks in every retail store as people have caught on and move away from threaded floss.

Who is it bad for?

If you have super tight teeth, it can be harder to use because most people don’t know how to use it properly. Rather than jamming it between your teeth, you need to use a sawing motion to move it back and forth between your teeth. This way, the floss will ease in.

Same if you try to take it out. Don’t yank it out. Use a sawing motion while pulling up and the floss comes out easily.

Floss picks are the best option. It’s suited to everyone. It’s also the best option for children as it is easy to use.

What to be careful about

Floss cleft.

It comes from when you repeatedly use floss in the wrong way and create a groove.

  1. Don’t force the floss between tight teeth and stab your gums.
  2. Don’t pull the floss around the bottom line of your teeth. You are not cutting your teeth with floss. Floss isn’t meant to go up into the gums or wrap your teeth. It is meant to go up moderately and clean the narrow space between the teeth it makes contact with.

If your gums start to bleed, it’s a result of your gums being unhealthy and too sensitive, or you are being too rough with the floss.

2. Rubber Soft Picks

a set of soft rubber picks and how to use it in between teeth

Who is it  for?

These bristled brushes are the “new” toothpicks. It’s soft so that you don’t damage your gums and bends to maneuver into harder to reach areas.

If you wear braces, flossing is difficult. With these rubber picks, you can get in and around your braces much easier and safer than using a floss or toothpick.

If you don’t wear braces, sometimes it’s hard to find a place to wash your hands after you’ve used a floss pick or thread. This rubber bristle pick is a less messy alternative. Especially if you are traveling and it’s hard to get in and out of your seat.

Who is it bad for?

It’s not thin like a floss thread so you can’t clean the area between your teeth where they touch. If you had a meaty sandwich and get that awful feeling of something stuck right between two teeth, this rubber pick won’t work.

If you need to floss, don’t use a soft pick.

If the gap between your gum line and teeth is very small, it can feel rough and excessive to push this through.

Since you have to push these picks through the space between your gum and bottom line of your teeth, if you have gum issues of any kind, it can cause flare-ups.

What to be careful about 

Aside from the main risk of gum inflammation, soft picks are gentle and easy to use.

There’s a tiny risk that if you try to squeeze it between tight teeth, a rubber piece could break off and you’ll either swallow it, or it gets stuck.

The main user is somebody who wears braces, so the pick will be safe to clean the space between the brace and the front of the teeth.

Soft picks don’t fall under FDA regulation so it is easy for anyone to make it and sell it. Be wary of the material used as you don’t want cheap, lower grade plastics and rubber in your mouth. It’s very important that even though it’s not FDA regulated, it’s made in a facility that has FDA certification and follows Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).

3. Water Flosser Pick

Who is it for?

Water flosser is a great alternative for everyday use. Dentists call it an oral pulsating irrigator because it fires a stream of water in your teeth.

Your teeth and gums might feel less clean if you’re used to the regular waxed string floss. Although the water flosser can aid in bacterial reduction even below the gumline, it has a hard time removing visible film and plaque on your teeth.

man using bottle, this is not a water flosser

Water flossers gently remove food particles stuck between teeth. This is great if you wear braces or if you have sensitive gums. 

Who is it bad for?

It’s not great if you have tartar buildup and harden plaque. If you have extremely tight teeth and need to get in between, it isn’t as effective as good ol’ floss.

Also not good for travelers. You can’t carry a machine with you on the train, plane or bus.

Floss picks win hands down here.

What to be careful about 

A gentle water stream won’t substitute for regular floss. Use this alternative if regular floss makes your gums tender or you bleed.

Regular floss was designed to scrape off the bacteria from your teeth. Water flossers can only rinse off bacteria. 

Don’t be too complacent because dentists use water flossers. Dentists use it to remove the debris they scrape off using steel tartar scrapers and other plaque remover tools.

floss = healthy teeth

4. Proxy Brushes

set of red and blue proxy brushes

Who is it for? 

If you have braces or dentures, this is for you. It’s so easy you don’t have to be mindful of flossing techniques.

It effectively cleans between the necks of the teeth that’s why it’s called proxy, short for inter-proximal. It means that it’s effective at brushing between teeth which is ideal if you have wide gaps between your teeth.

It’s also safe to use if you have bridges and dental implants and effective than floss in cleaning the biofilm on the teeth that causes bacterial buildup.

Less biofilm means less plaque build-up, gum disease, and tooth decay.  

Who is it bad for?

proxy brushes can be harsh for sensitive gums

Interdental brushes are made specifically if you have wide gaps between your teeth, braces and dentures. It’s the same as soft picks above. You need to consider “interdental shape and size”.

Won’t work well if your teeth are close together.

If you have delicate dental implants, it’s safer than floss as you want to use a gentler product.

What to be careful about 

These brushes need to be cleaned properly before and after use because it’s prone to bacterial infestation and can irritate the gums. It’s made of thin wire that can cut your gums if you’re too aggressive.

That’s the reason why proxy brushes have bendable brush tips and different brush sizes.

It’s more expensive than regular floss. You don’t get 50 yards of string from a pack of these interdental brushes. Because you have to be mindful of how you squeeze it between your gums or braces, it takes more time to use than regular floss.

Stop using it if your gums bleed and you still find it difficult to use a proxy brush after using it for some time.

It helps to find a comfortable size for you. It comes in various lengths. There are also different grips you can choose from.

Find the best size and best grip for you and you’ll be able to use this thing like a pro.  

5. Toothpicks

wood toothpicks inside japanese pottery

Who is it good for?

Toothpicks do one thing and it does it great. Picks the food stuck in your teeth.

It’s an ideal quick fix when you don’t have a place to floss. Toothpicks can also scrape food particles stuck on the teeth.

Be careful not to scrape too much as this can scratch your teeth’s enamel. This is true when using hard wooden toothpicks.

don't floss with toothpicks in public

Using toothpicks in public is generally frowned upon anywhere in the world. But adults can be discreet, or just use the bathroom if it’s close.

If you must use a toothpick, try a soft pick.

It’s not a complete alternative to flossing, but when you are in a pinch, it’s easy to find and use. 

Who is it bad for?

It’s not advisable to use toothpicks for regular use. You’ll end up with minor to a major case of receding teeth and scratched enamel.

Because the picks are not ultra sharp or thin, you can’t get it between your teeth. You don’t want to jam it between your teeth, that’s just asking for trouble.

Avoid using wooden toothpicks on a regular basis as much as possible. Soft picks are readily available from any retail store and are less expensive than damaging your teeth and having to pay for a dentist’s visit.

What to be careful about 

Bamboo toothpicks are better than wood toothpicks. It won’t replace floss, but if you hate to floss, using picks is better than nothing to clean your gum line.

The wooden ones will break or crack and the little splinters can stab your gums. I’ve also had many instances where I used it too hard and it broke. A tiny splinter got stuck between my teeth and it was impossible to take out without floss.

Why is flossing important?

Dental health is a possible cause of poor heart health.

There are rare cases of oral bacterial infection going into some parts of the heart and causing a heart attack.  

Flossing habit is hard to develop but tiny good habits build up into indestructible moats.

this is why people hate flossing

I know, I know.

It’s inconvenient. It’s time-consuming.

But use any of the 5 alternatives above and the bonus is fresh breath, great looking pearly whites and a complete and healthy set of chompers.

Regular flossing removes plaque before it builds up and starts being noticeable.

For good measure, here are 5 more reasons to start.

  • It makes your teeth look brighter
  • It can reach the most narrow areas that toothbrushes can’t reach
  • It keeps your teeth healthy
  • It’s an excellent way to practice good oral hygiene
  • It tightens your gum tissues

Yes but I still hate flossing.

I hear you.

Develop the habit through a micro-habit. 

Associate brushing with flossing and start by picking up your floss and trying just one tooth. You are only committing to picking up the floss and using it on one tooth.

Or buy a bag of floss picks and since you have committed $2, you’ll want to use up the bag.

Keep this up and don’t break the chain. Forward momentum should be able to help you complete a floss when it becomes a habit.

fresh-aid quality oral care you can use twice a day when you brush, floss and gargle mouthwash

Flossing Alternative for Kids

Flossing ain’t fun for adults.

How would a 5-year-old feel?

They absolutely hate it.

Flossing is challenging for children because they don’t like the floss threads wrapped around their finger, and having to stretch their mouth open.

If you trained your kids to floss, you deserve super parent level 100 status.

So many instructions. So many rules.

You overwhelm kids and because their gums are softer, it hurts and you know how kids overreact if something hurts a tiny bit.

Of the 5 alternatives to flossing, the best way to start them is to use floss picks. They have kids version that are smaller and the threads are thinner.

The downside is that the floss on these kids versions snap easily. It’s like the Oral B floss picks. They snap like a twig if you put any sort of pressure.

Coconut Oil Pulling

This is something I randomly came across, but it’s called coconut oil pulling as another way to “floss”.

It’s an easy, natural alternative floss replacement for kids.

coconut oil pulling for kids can be easier for them

You do it by swishing a single tablespoon of pure or virgin coconut oil in your mouth. If you can’t find coconut oil, you can also use Virgin Sesame Oil as an alternative. You’re supposed to get them to do it for 10 to 20 minutes.

Kids can’t even sit straight for 10-20 minutes. If you have tried this, leave a comment on how it worked.

Anyways, since it’s oil you are using to wash your mouth and oil is thicker than water, the idea is that it pulls out gunk from around the gums and teeth.

At least it’s natural, you have it at home already, and it’s a way to introduce them to mouthwash later on.

Which alternatives to flossing do you use?

Super easy question to end.

What’s stopping you from flossing?

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