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Dental Picks vs. Floss: What Works Best?

dental picks vs floss

At Canal Vista Family Dental in Princeton, NJ, we often encounter questions about the best tools for maintaining good oral hygiene.

One common question from our patients revolves around the effectiveness of dental picks compared to traditional dental floss. With Dr. Bestandji’s expertise, we’re here to look deeper into this topic and offer guidance on each option to help you make informed decisions about your dental care routine.

The Importance of Flossing

Before we compare these flossing methods, it’s important to know why flossing is a key component of oral hygiene. Flossing helps remove food particles and plaque from between teeth, which your toothbrush can’t reach. It also plays a significant role in preventing gum disease and gingivitis.

Regardless of your chosen method, incorporating flossing into your daily routine is essential for a healthy mouth.

Dental Picks: Convenience on the Go

Floss picks have grown in popularity due to their convenience and ease of use. These tools are essentially a piece of floss mounted on a handle and can be a great way to encourage those who might skip flossing to incorporate it into their routine. According to an article by the Boston Dental Group, floss picks can effectively fight gum disease and gingivitis, similar to traditional dental floss.

However, some dental professionals express a preference for traditional floss or dental tape. They argue that the small length of floss on a pick, stretched in a straight line, may not provide the same level of cleanliness as manually controlled floss can achieve.

How to Floss with Dental Picks

Flossing with dental picks is straightforward, making it an attractive option for many of our Princeton, NJ dental patients. Here’s a simple guide to effective flossing using dental picks:

  1. Hold the Dental Pick Correctly: Grip the floss pick handle firmly, ensuring you have complete control over the tool.
  2. Start with the Top Teeth: Begin by gently inserting the floss section of the pick between two teeth. Avoid forcing it in, as this could damage your gums or teeth.
  3. Glide and Clean: Move the pick up and down, holding pressure against the side of the tooth to remove food particles and plaque. Be sure to reach below the gum line gently but effectively.
  4. Use a Clean Section for Each Tooth: Although the length of floss on a pick is limited, attempt to use a clean section by slightly adjusting its position as you move from tooth to tooth. This ensures maximum cleanliness.
  5. Don’t Forget the Back Teeth: Floss picks are particularly useful for reaching the back of your mouth. Make sure to floss around the back sides of your last molars.
  6. Dispose After Use: For hygiene reasons, discard the floss pick after completing your flossing routine. Never reuse a dental pick.

By following these steps, you can ensure that your teeth and gums remain healthy using dental picks. Remember, the key to effective flossing, regardless of the method, is consistency in your daily dental care routine.

Traditional Dental Floss: A Time-Tested Method

Traditional string floss has been the go-to choice for dental care professionals for decades. Its flexibility allows for a thorough cleaning between teeth and along the gum line. This method also allows you to control the length of floss used and adjust your technique for hard-to-reach areas.

Traditional dental floss is environmentally friendly because it produces less waste than disposable floss picks. It’s also a more cost-effective option in the long run, as packs of string floss tend to last longer than packs of floss picks.

Flossing With Dental Floss

Flossing with traditional dental floss requires a bit more manual dexterity but can be extremely effective when done correctly. Here’s how you can get the most out of flossing with traditional dental floss:

  1. Cut a Length of Floss: Begin by cutting a length of floss approximately 18 inches long. This gives you enough floss to work with, allowing you to use a clean section for each tooth.
  2. Wrap the Ends: Wrap the ends of the floss around your middle fingers, leaving about an inch or two of floss to work with. Use your thumbs and index fingers to guide the floss.
  3. Gently Insert the Floss: Carefully insert the floss between two teeth, using a gentle sawing motion. Be careful not to snap the floss into your gums — this can cause irritation or damage.
  4. Curve the Floss: Once the floss is between your teeth, curve it into a “C” shape against one tooth and gently slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  5. Slide and Clean: Move the floss gently up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth. Ensure you reach below the gumline to remove any hidden plaque or food particles.
  6. Repeat: Move to a clean section of floss and repeat the process for each tooth, including the back sides of your last molars.

Flossing with traditional dental floss may take a bit more time and practice compared to using dental picks. Still, it offers the advantage of being able to control the cleaning process more effectively.

Making the Right Choice

When choosing between dental picks and dental floss, there are a few things to consider:


Both tools can be effective when used correctly. Traditional floss offers more flexibility and control, which can lead to a more thorough cleaning. However, floss picks can still be a suitable alternative, especially for patients who find them more convenient or easier to use.


If you’re always on the go or find traditional flossing challenging, floss picks can be a practical option. Their ease of use and portability make them attractive for maintaining oral hygiene throughout the day.

Environmental Impact

It’s also worth considering the environmental impact. Traditional floss generates less waste than disposable floss picks. If sustainability is a priority for you, opt for eco-friendly brands or reusable floss picks.

Personal Preference

Ultimately, the best choice is the one that fits your lifestyle and encourages you to floss regularly. Whether you prefer the thoroughness of traditional floss or the convenience of floss picks, the most important thing is that you floss daily.

Reserve Your Appointment Today

Ready to get the most out of your oral hygiene routine? Contact Canal Vista Family Dental in Princeton, NJ, today to schedule an appointment with Dr. Bestandji. We’re excited to help[ you achieve and maintain a healthy smile.

Remember, the best flossing method is the one that you’ll consistently use. Let us help you find your perfect match!

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