Floss: Wax On or Wax Off?

The first step to establishing proper dental care techniques is finding products that fit every personal need and preference. For example, do you prefer hand held toothbrushes versus electric, or do you prefer floss that is coated with wax versus no coating?  To help patients make these decisions, it is best to have an understanding of which is most effective.  I know our Drs.Versman, Heller, and Beckman here at Periodontal Associates hopes you brush and floss no matter what types or brands of equipment you are using, but a new study did reveal if waxed or un-waxed dental floss is preferred.

The study was developed in order to challenge a prior study that was published in the Journal of Periodontology back in 1990.  To best understand which form of floss is superior, we must not only discover which is most effective in the view of dentists but we must also find what consumers prefer.

So, what do Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman suggest?  Based on their experience as well as other clinical studies, Periodontal Associates agree that there is no statistical difference or clinical significance. Simply, the best floss is the one that is being used. Even with free floss or floss sticks, Drs. Versman, Heller, and Beckman have no preference.  If you do have any concern, feel free to ask at your next hygiene appointment, and we can guide you based on your individual needs.

What is the most popular choice made by patients? Dr. Robert H. Beaumont asked 100 patients which one they preferred.  He gave every patients unmarked floss with instructions for use between two front teeth as well as two back teeth.  He then gave another sample of floss, again unmarked, with repeated instructions.  To make sure there was no bias, half the patients started with wax while the other half started with no wax floss.

After both flosses were used, Beaumont simple asked each patient which sample they liked most.  “All had an immediate and clear floss preference after performing the test.” The conclusion: 79 percent preferred waxed floss, leaving 21% preferring non-waxed floss.  This may be true for our Denver, CO patients, too.

Why is this so?  “The most frequent objection to waxed floss was related to a feeling of ‘thickness’, not a specific objection of difficulty in use. Unwaxed was described as ‘thinner’ and when preferred was most often selected for that reason,” stated Beaumont after questioning each patient on why they made their decisions as they did.

Where do you stand? How do you floss, where do you floss, and when do you floss?Drs.Versman, Heller, and Beckman would say it is best to floss daily as gum disease is caused by bacteria that grow on the teeth at the edges of and underneath the gums, and flossing, along with periodontal care appointments, will help remove the bacteria around the teeth, preventing periodontal disease.

How to floss:

  1. Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  2. Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  3. Curve the floss into a “C” shape around each tooth and under the gum line. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.

Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

For further information, please call and schedule a consultation with Drs. Versman,Heller, or Beckman today, or please stop in for a periodontal care hygiene appointment where our hygienists are specially trained to treat patients with gum disease as well as prevent the onset of gum disease. We can be reached by phone at (303) 755-4500 or please click here for an appointment. We serve patients of all ages throughout the Denver metro area, and we will look forward to meeting you.