This story is a part of Show Your Teeth, a package in which Allure examines dental care (or lack thereof) in the U.S. and what we can do at home to better care for our teeth.
Just like wearing sunscreen, proper oral health should hold a pretty prominent place in your daily personal-care routine. Not only do we want you to go into your next dentist appointment feeling confident, but to also recognize that there’s more to oral health than just brushing. In fact, strong, healthy teeth and fresh breath depend greatly on gum health.
“Flossing is an extremely important part of preventative dental care,” says dentist Ira Handschuh, who is based in White Plains, New York. “It is really the only way patients can clean in between teeth since a toothbrush cannot get in between contact areas of teeth.”
It’s a lot easier said than done, though. New York City-based cosmetic dentist Greg Gelfand understands the struggle. “The truth is that most people don’t floss and may be ashamed of their less-than-ideal oral-care routine,” he says. “It can be tough for some to go from not using floss to revamping their entire routine.” But the additional step has big benefits in the long run.
That’s why Gelfand advises people to ease into flossing and grow with time. “Perhaps start with just the front teeth and add more teeth to your routine as the week progresses,” Gelfand suggests. “With this phase-in approach, you can go from not flossing at all to hopefully building a habit out of it.
According to Handschuh, a strong flossing routine means cleaning between teeth every single day. “I suggest that all my patients floss once per day in conjunction with brushing two to three times per day.”
Flossing practices aside, a good place to begin is by finding a favorite floss, which most of the experts we spoke with agree simply comes down to preference. “There are so many floss options on the market,” says cosmetic dentist Sharon Huang, who is based in New York City. “The best floss is the floss you enjoy and will use daily.”
To help narrow down your options — and more importantly, to guarantee that you’ll find one you love — we rounded up nine different at-home flossing products, recommended by the professionals. There are basic but effective classic options, proxabrushes, and even a Waterpik in the mix. Keep scrolling to see what dentists suggest for at-home oral upkeep.