Compare flossing to cleaning your car; you don’t just wash the sides, you wash the whole car. If you are only brushing, you are only getting two sides of the tooth, leaving a lot of the tooth untouched and dirty. Hygienists know you don’t like to floss and for a while there wasn’t much else for them to recommend besides the conventional flossing technique. Now, there are a variety of options available that might fit into your routine better. When done correctly, some studies have shown a few of the newer methods to be more effective than flossing.
Waterpiks are designed to spray water in between your teeth to remove plaque and bacteria. These work great for people with braces, implants, crowns, bridges, veneers or permanent retainers. A few downsides some people and dental providers have with the Waterpik is they are more expensive upfront but after a year or so, by not having to buy floss, the Waterpik pays for itself. Another concern is that the water spray can get a little messy. If the water power setting is lowered and the user leans far enough over the sink, this mess can usually be avoided. Waterpik does have an option for connecting one into your shower, which reduces the mess on the counters in the bathroom.
These are great for kids and adults! They are like nun chucks but the string connecting the two handles is floss. The handles allow your fingers to remain outside of your mouth while flossing, even when accessing those hard to reach areas in the back. There is an easy button to push to release the floss so you can replace it as needed. They recently came out with gum chucks for braces that allow the tip to go under the bracket easier than regular floss. Again, these cost a little more upfront but just like the Waterpik it will pay for itself.
Interproximal Brushes (commonly called Proxy brushes)
These are designed for people who might have bigger spaces in between their teeth or have orthodontics. It has a wire center with flexible bristles coming out the sides, looking very much like a Christmas tree. These can be found with short or long handles, easily customized to your preference. These are not meant for people who have really tight areas between their teeth because trying to force the brush through could hurt and potentially damage your gums.
These are just a handful of the newer options out there. Make sure to talk with your hygienist about the concerns you have with flossing and you can work together to find a flossing aid that will work for you.