If you have teeth that are really jammed close together, flossing can be difficult. Years ago, it was almost impossible for me because the most widely available flosses just didn’t work. Now, however, there are so many types of floss and other cleaning tools that you’re more likely to get confused by all the choices than to be unable to find what works for you! This article is for those of you who know you need to floss and clean between your teeth better, but are frustrated by lack of good advice.
Floss for close teeth
Choosing the right floss is the first essential step in caring for a mouth full of closely packed teeth. Years ago, all you had were thick, waxed strings that wouldn’t even go between some pairs of teeth, and often shredded if you did manage to squeeze it in there and work it back and forth a little. Or just getting it in between your teeth required such a jerk that it would end up cutting your gums. Now you have far better options. For close teeth, you need to:
- Avoid waxed flosses, unless they specifically say they’re designed for tight teeth. Traditional waxed flosses are just too thick, but some of the new ribbon flosses are technically waxed to prevent shredding, but they’re still extremely thin. Reach Unwaxed is a good choice.
- Ribbon-style flosses, the ones that are thin and flat instead of just a thread, are better at slipping into tight spaces. I’m a big fan of Glide.
There are other flosses that are unwaxed and/or ribbon-style out there, and I’m sure many of them are good. These are just the two that I happened to find and have been using with great success for years. I can easily wiggle them between even my tightest teeth.
A good floss once a day is enough for some people, but not me. I’m one of those lucky people who happen to collect tartar faster than most. I have to brush three times a day instead of twice, and even then, I still get cavities.
If flossing once a day isn’t cutting it, dental picks are a great way to clean your teeth after every meal, or even every snack if you feel the need. Again, there are many different types of picks, and what works for you may not work for someone else.
- Brush type. Some people with close teeth can use some of the smaller “brush type” picks, like these from Butler. They have little brushes on the ends that kind of remind me of pipe cleaners. You push the brush in between two teeth and move gently back and forth. This is a great type of dental pick because not only will it get rid of any food between your teeth, it will also massage your gums a little, stimulating circulation to help keep them healthy.
- Plastic pick. If you can’t use these because your teeth are too close, you can probably use a plain, plastic toothpick with flat bristles, like these from The Doctor’s. These are little plastic sticks with just a few tiny plastic sticks poking out of the ends on two sides. This gives them a much thinner profile than the brush style picks, enabling them to slide between tighter teeth. The little plastic sticks on the end still function like a brush, scraping food from your teeth and stimulating the gums a little. You may actually have pairs of teeth you can’t even get one of these between – I do. But I can slide it partway in to at least do some good, and I floss between those teeth daily anyway.
- Floss picks. If you struggle even to get a plastic pick between your teeth, something you may find convenient is a floss pick like these from Den Tek. These are little plastic sticks that fork at the end and have a piece of floss between the ends of the forks. These do not replace flossing: strings of floss can be wrapped partway around each tooth’s surface to really scrape off clinging bits of food, and these can only get in between for some basic cleanup. But basic cleanup in addition to a good daily flossing is very useful. These don’t really do anything for your gums, but they will help keep down the plaque.
Caring for teeth is a challenge when they’re really close together, but it’s getting easier. Do yourself a favor, and don’t just assume you can’t floss or pick because it’s been so difficult in years past. The tools are getting better all the time.