Sunday, January 6, 2013

Do You Use a Floss Holder?

Dr. Chip Tartaroff got a question about Floss Holders.

Dear Dr. T
You  make no mention of any of the numerous floss-holders that are available. I never used to floss until I almost lost 8 of my back teeth due to the roots having decayed to the degree that I had to have surgery where the gums had to be cut and lifted off the teeth so that the decayed area of the roots could be 'scratched off'.
This was an agonizing ordeal that had to be done over a month and took four separate surgeries, one for each quarter of the mouth.
It was such a shock for me that I spent hours on the internet searching for a simplified, if not easier, way to floss. Flossing was just too difficult to do. I came across 2 different items for sale and have been flossing daily ever since. (The 2 gadgets I bought are good).
Yet you never mention any of the items sold for making flossing easy, or at least easier. Why? Is it because you don't believe these gadgets work? Or is it because you will be accused of 'pushing' a product in the form of indirect advertising?
Ivan P

Dear Ivan,
Thanks for your note!
I'll start my reply from the end of what you wrote – I haven't talked about floss holders because I don't use them and no one, before you, has asked about them. It's also true that I'm not interested in “pushing” particular products.
As I say in another spot, I think flossing will have helpful effects whether it's done with string from a sewing box or a fine designer “tea tree” floss. I guess I should add “or with a floss holder.”
Cleaning between your teeth where food and crud can sit – out of reach of a toothbrush – is what flossing is all about. What kind of floss and how you get the floss there aren't too important.
But some people, like you, find the addition of a floss holder makes flossing much easier and convenient, and it actually gets them to floss. Which is why I'm very happy you wrote to let others know your experience!
In my back teeth, I have some old amalgam fillings that catch floss if I try to pull it up and out, so I like having a free end on my floss to slide it out from between my teeth. That limits my use of those small y shaped floss holders and keeps me a “free rangin' flosser” with no holder at all.
I'm very happy to hear you have done so well with the floss holders you've found (I checked back with Ivan and found he particularly likes “floss rings”*).
Other readers are encouraged to send word of their experience with other floss holders (good or bad) to share. This isn't a site for “pushing products,” but it is a place you can share your honest experience with flossing aids/gadgets.
Floss on, Ivan!

Dr. T.

*Floss Rings were developed by Sean Dix in the 1990s. Apparently, Mr. Dix is not one who believes “Any press is good press.” After a bad report on floss rings on CNN and a long period of frustration about getting his side of the product story told, Sean Dix feigned a threat on the life of Ted Turner to get attention to his complaints. The tactic got him 2 years in jail. For a telling of the full story: 

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