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Waxed or unwaxed thread or tape used to remove plaque and food debris from the interproximal spaces between the teeth. The floss is placed in the gingival crevice (sulcus) and, by pressure against the mesial or distal tooth surface, forms a C-shape. It is then withdrawn in a coronal direction. Floss is normally held between the fingers but there are a number of flossing aids to help the less dextrous or to gain access to less accessible areas. Floss tape is sometimes advocated for gaining access to tight interproximal spaces and may be made of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) to resist shredding and breaking. Floss is sometimes impregnated with fluoride because of its cariostatic properties, but its potential benefit requires further research.

Further Reading:

Hujoel P. P., Cunha-Cruz J., Banting D. W., Loesche W. J. Dental flossing and interproximal caries: a systematic review. J Dent Res 2006;85(4):298–305.

Floss on tooth

Floss tape

Subjects: Dentistry.

Reference entries