Updated on February 22, 2024
7 min read

5 Best Alternatives to Dental Floss

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Everything We Recommend

1. Best OverallWaterpik Aquarius Water Flosser

2. Best Water Flosser for Travel — MySmile Cordless Oral Irrigator

3. Best for Maneuvering — GumChucks

4. Best for BracesPlatypus Orthodontic Flossers

5. Best Interdental BrushGUM Proxabrush Go-Betweens

Are There Effective Alternatives to String Floss?

If traditional dental floss is difficult or unpleasant to use, alternatives are available. Some may be as effective as traditional floss, and a few have received the American Dental Association (ADA) Seal of Acceptance.3

Oral Irrigators (Water Flossers)

Oral irrigators or water flossers like Waterpiks clean between your teeth. They use a stream of water instead of a string. Many dentists recommend using them in addition to regular flossing.

Studies have shown water flossers effectively remove plaque between teeth.4, 5 Water flossers can also reduce bleeding, especially if you’re recovering from dental implant surgery. Dentists commonly recommend them over traditional floss in these cases.6, 7

Water flossers also come with different pressure settings and jet tips. This makes accommodating sensitive teeth and gums much easier.

Floss Picks

Floss picks are toothpicks, usually made of plastic, with attachments that hold a small length of floss. They’re easier to hold and use than string floss, but they don’t have the same reach. They tend to be more challenging to use on back teeth.

Compared to water flossers and interdental brushes, floss picks are a less effective alternative to traditional floss. However, they still disrupt plaque, making them better than not flossing at all.

Interdental Brushes

Interdental brushes are a hybrid option. They have the same benefits as both toothbrushes and floss. They’re long and thin enough to clean between your teeth.

Some studies have found interdental brushes to be more effective at removing plaque than any other method, including flossing.6, 8 This may be because they’re easier to use than string floss or water flossers, making it more likely that you’ll stay consistent.

However, interdental brushes aren’t made equal. A good interdental brush should fit snugly and comfortably between your teeth. It should not feel too big or too small. Avoid brushes made with metal wires if you have sensitive teeth or gums.6

Talk to your dentist to help determine the best interdental brush size for your tooth spacing.

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5 Best Alternatives to Floss

The following are five of the best alternatives to floss. They include two water flossers, two unique kinds of floss picks, and one versatile interdental brush.

Although the majority of reviews for these products are 5-star ratings, we also checked the negative reviews to see if there were any common concerns. We’ll discuss any user issues or advice.

Here are our top five picks:

1.  Best Overall — Waterpik Aquarius Water Flosser

Waterpik Aquarius

The Waterpik Aquarius has the ADA Seal of Acceptance and can effectively remove plaque between teeth. It has a full-size reservoir, making it best for at-home use.

This device includes 10 pressure settings and offers 90 seconds of water flow. It also pauses every 30 seconds to help you track time.

Of all Waterpik models with full-size reservoirs, the Aquarius has the most reviews, with an average of 4.6 on Amazon. It’s backed by a 3-year limited warranty.

What to Watch Out For

Some reviewers noted the wand of the Aquarius isn’t a sealed unit, which means water can flow back into it from your mouth or hand. This means it’s essential to make sure the entire wand is clean and dry after each use.

Like any device that uses stored water, the Waterpik Aquarius (including the wand) must be dried after use and given regular deep cleanings. Otherwise, mold or mineral deposits can begin to form. Waterpik has an instructional video for reference.

Several customers also noted that the device is loud. This is due to the water pressure it uses. Keeping the device clean may help reduce the noise (but don’t expect it to be silent during use).

2. Best Water Flosser for Travel — MySmile Cordless Oral Irrigator

MySmile Powerful Cordless

The MySmile Cordless Oral Irrigator is a great choice for traveling. It offers 5 pressure settings and 90 seconds of water flow on “normal” pressure.

Multiple reviewers noted that they chose this model specifically over its competitors from Waterpik and Philips due to its price and features. The lithium battery can last 15 to 20 days on a full charge.

What to Watch Out For

Several reviewers noted that the on/off button on this device is very close to the button for pressure settings. You’ll have to be careful not to unintentionally change the settings. The lithium battery also can’t be removed or changed.

This device uses a USB charging port rather than a magnetic charging system, so make sure the port is properly covered before use.

3. Best for Maneuvering — GumChucks

GumChucks

GumChucks are a unique floss-holding tool, shaped like miniature nunchucks. This makes it easy to hold the floss around teeth properly, including back teeth that can be hard to reach. Children and people with limited dexterity may find it easier to floss using GumChucks.

The GumChucks Starter Pack includes reusable nunchuck-like handles and 10 flossing tips.

What to Watch Out For

Some reviewers noted that while the handles are convenient and easy to use, the floss tips can break easily. You may want to try getting just the Starter Pack and seeing if they work for you before committing to a refill.

Another concern is that GumChucks might not be ideal for those with braces. Depending on how your brackets are placed, they may be difficult to use.

4. Best for Braces — Platypus Orthodontic Flossers

Platypus Orthodontic Flossers for Braces

Platypus Orthodontic Flossers are designed specifically for people with braces. They’re intended to fit perfectly behind your brackets, making flossing easier and less time-consuming.

Out of over 7,000 reviews, 80% gave Platypus Orthodontic Flossers a 5-star rating. Customers reported that they made flossing easier for themselves or their children who were undergoing orthodontic treatment.

What to Watch Out For

Several reviewers said they had difficulty using this product because of their tight teeth. In addition, while some reviewers said these lasted them a long time, others complained 40 flossers per pack wasn’t enough for the cost.
However, some reviewers of this brand’s competitors had similar concerns. Orthodontic flossers of any kind may be less cost-effective if you have very tight spaces between your teeth.

5. Best Interdental Brush — GUM Proxabrush Go-Betweens

GUM Proxabrush Go Betweens Interdental Brushes

GUM Proxabrush Go-Betweens allow you to clean between your teeth without string floss or a water flosser. They come in four sizes—Wide, Moderate, Tight, and Ultra Tight—allowing you to choose the most effective and comfortable option.

These brushes are ergonomic and can bend slightly, allowing you to reach the spaces between all of your teeth. The brush heads are also coated to avoid disturbing dental implants or metal restorations.

What to Watch Out For

Some reviewers said they are not as high-quality as they used to be. However, they’re still Amazon’s best-selling interdental brush.

These brushes come with caps, allowing you to safely reuse them. Be sure to clean them thoroughly before recapping them for later use.

More Reading

Risks of Not Flossing Regularly

The sides of your teeth are as susceptible to cavities as any other tooth surface. If you only clean the visible parts of your teeth, you leave the sides vulnerable to oral bacteria.

The bacteria that form plaque can damage your teeth and gums if they aren’t removed. Over time, not flossing can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.1, 2

Experience the next level of flossing with 2024's cutting-edge water flossers. See our expert recommendations here.

Benefits of String Floss Over These Alternatives

These flossing alternatives are great for people who have difficulty reaching all areas of the mouth with traditional floss. But dentists still recommend using string or tape floss if you can.

You can bend traditional dental floss around each tooth. This allows you to completely clean the interdental space up to the gumline.

As mentioned earlier, water flossers, specialized floss picks, or interdental brushes might be better for certain conditions or situations. Your dentist, hygienist, periodontist, or oral surgeon can give customized advice based on your needs.

Summary

Flossing is an essential part of your oral hygiene routine. It allows you to remove plaque in the spaces between your teeth that brushing alone can’t reach.

Dentists generally recommend traditional floss over other methods. However, flossing alternatives can also be highly effective and are better than not flossing at all. These alternatives include water flossers, interdental brushes, and floss picks.

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Last updated on February 22, 2024
11 Sources Cited
Last updated on February 22, 2024
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. Bosma, Mary Lynn, et al. “Efficacy of Flossing and Mouthrinsing Regimens on Plaque and Gingivitis: A randomized clinical trial.” Journal of Dental Hygiene, 2022.
  2. Cepeda, M Soledad et al. “Association of flossing/inter-dental cleaning and periodontitis in adults.” Journal of Clinical Periodontology, 2017.
  3. ADA Seal of Acceptance.” American Dental Association.
  4. Goyal, et al. “Evaluation of the plaque removal efficacy of a water flosser compared to string floss in adults after a single use.” Journal of Clinical Dentistry, 2013.
  5. Sawan, et al. “Effectiveness of Super Floss and Water Flosser in Plaque Removal for Patients Undergoing Orthodontic Treatment: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” International Journal of Dentistry, 2022.
  6. Ng, Ethan, and Lum Peng Lim. “An Overview of Different Interdental Cleaning Aids and Their Effectiveness.” Dentistry Journal, 2019.
  7. Magnuson, et al. “Comparison of the effect of two interdental cleaning devices around implants on the reduction of bleeding: a 30-day randomized clinical trial.” Compendium of Continuing Education in Dentistry, 2013.
  8. Stavrakis, Adrian K et al. “Performance Evaluation of Dental Flosses Pre- and Post-Utilization.” Materials (Basel, Switzerland), 2022.
  9. Marchesan, J.T., et al. “Flossing Is Associated with Improved Oral Health in Older Adults.” Journal of Dental Research, 2020.
  10. Terry, Bradley W., and Sarah Daly. “Does flossing improve oral health?” Evidence-Based Practice, 2018.
  11. Rutkowski, James L. “The Truth About Flossing.” Journal of Oral Implantology, 2016.
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