The 5 Best Flosses, According to Dentists

The Cocofloss Dental Floss is extra grippy to provide a better interdental clean

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A consistent brushing and flossing routine is essential to maintaining good dental hygiene. Casey Lau, DDS, co-founder and chief dental officer of sustainable oral company ELIMS, explains that the true purpose of flossing is to remove the physical debris that collects between the teeth. This debris, she says, “forms colonies of bacteria called plaque and tartar, [which] need to be broken up so that the bacteria doesn't have a chance to . . . cause cavities or inflammation and infection of the gums."

Reviewed & Approved

Cocofloss Coconut-Oil Infused Woven Dental Floss is our best overall pick because it effectively cleans teeth and has a cooling, fresh taste. If you’re looking for a floss that is specifically designed for braces, we recommend the Oral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands.

Since "enough of the population flosses to begin with," Dr. Lau says that most dentists will tell you any floss is better than no floss. But she says the best ones "remove the most plaque and debris from your teeth [before it hardens].” This usually means choosing a floss that’s a bit thicker but doesn't shred, has some kind of scrubby texture to it, and is coated with a light wax that helps to break up those bacterial colonies, adds Dr. Lau. We researched dozens of flosses and reviewed them based on their material, flavor, type, and price.

Here are the best types of dental floss on the market today.

Best Overall: Cocofloss Coconut-Oil Infused Woven Dental Floss

4.8
Cocofloss Coconut-Oil Infused Woven Dental Floss

Courtesy: Amazon

Pros
  • Thick and grips well

  • Vegan, chemical-free

  • Mild flavor

Cons
  • Expensive

It might look a little gimmicky, but the brightly-colored, attention-grabbing Cocofloss is our top pick because it was created by a dentist who knew people needed something a little flashy in order to commit to getting in the healthy routine of daily flossing. Chrystle Cu, DDS, invented Cocofloss—a chemical-free floss infused with coconut oil and made of more than 500 grippy, plaque-busting fibers for a deeply effective yet soothing clean.

We’ll admit that Cocofloss is a bit pricier than some other options on our list, but you can shop creatively: according to Cocofloss, one of their spools will last a regular flosser about two months, and the Cocofloss web site offers a subscribe-and-save option for fans who want to build their own box of flavors and watch them show up in their mailbox on a predetermined schedule.

Material: Plastic | Usage: General; use once or twice daily | Flavor: Assorted fruits

Best for Preventing Cavities: RIsewell Scrubby Teflon-Free Floss

RIsewell Scrubby Teflon-Free Floss

Risewell

Pros
  • Hydroxyapatite-infused for enamel protection

  • Chemical-free

  • Expanding

Cons
  • Limited retailers

According to Dr. Lau, people with sensitive teeth may want to choose a floss containing ingredients that remineralize teeth and fight tooth decay. You’ll find these in toothpastes for sure, but it can be helpful to “have a floss that delivers these [ingredients] to the spaces that people typically get cavities,” he explains. 

He recommends a floss with fluoride or a calcium phosphate, and this expandable floss by RiseWell is one of the only ones to fit the bill: with hydroxyapatite, a calcium phosphate mineral, built into the fibers, RiseWell’s floss is an effective cleaner, fitting smoothly in between your teeth and then expanding to scrub away gunk (and protect your enamel in the process).

Material: Not specified | Usage: General; use once or twice daily | Flavor: Spearmint

Best Tasting: Dr. Tung's Smart Floss

Dr. Tung's Smart Floss

Amazon

Pros
  • Mild but refreshing cardamom flavor

  • Plant-based coating

  • Soft and stretchy

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Not good for people with tight spaces

Spearmint and bubblegum aren’t the only flavors available when it comes to dental product taste. We chose the Smart Floss by Dr. Tung’s as our pick for best-tasting floss: there’s no overpowering flavor here, only a light, refreshing burst of cardamom (which, if you don’t know, tastes vaguely herbal, like a blend of citrus and eucalyptus). 

An out-of-the-box flavor isn’t the only cool thing about this floss; it’s made with soft, silky fibers and coated with beeswax, allowing it to slip easily between your teeth and then expand as it gets to work on all the plaque lurking in there. It’s only slightly more expensive per pack than other popular drugstore brands, so it’s worth a try if you’re tired of harsh flavors in your dental products.

Material: Polyester | Usage: General; use once or twice daily | Flavor: Cardamom

Best Picks: DenTek Triple Clean Floss Picks

4.7
DenTek Triple Clean Floss Picks

Courtesy of Walmart

Pros
  • Three-in-one cleaner

  • Affordable

  • No-break guarantee

Cons
  • Not environmentally friendly

A dental pick probably isn’t most people’s first choice for flossing, but sometimes it’s the only thing that gets the job done. If you’re a kid learning how to brush and floss for the first time, an adult who likes to floss on the go, or an elderly adult having trouble manipulating string floss because of arthritis or neuropathy, dental picks can be a helpful solution.

If a dental pick is the best option for you, we recommend the DenTek Triple Clean Advanced picks, which not only do all the usual flossing work but also feature a micro-textured pointed end for detailed cleaning and a tongue scraper for the freshest possible breath around. The floss itself is made of 200-plus fibers designed not to shred or break, and it is thin enough to fit between tight teeth.

Material: Unspecified | Usage: General; use once or twice daily; press down with flossing string between teeth and floss as usual; if desired, use pointed end to deep clean and turn pick on its side to use as tongue scraper | Flavor: Mint

Best for Braces: Oral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands

Oral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands

Walmart

Pros
  • Easy-to-use precut strands

  • Stiff end for cleaning awkward spots

  • Spongy floss for wider cleaning

Cons
  • Costly for amount received

As if having braces isn’t annoying enough, you don’t get a free pass from flossing for however many years you’ve got them on—in fact, it’s more important than ever that you keep your teeth and your oral appliances clean, since no one wants to be left with discolored spots on their teeth when they do finally get their braces off.

That doesn’t mean flossing with braces is easy, though, so we like the Oral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands for simplifying the whole process. Grab a string and use it like a regular piece of dental floss, in between your teeth, around appliances, and under the gum line. The strands are smooth and spongy, helping to gently but effectively remove debris from your teeth, plus they even have a stiffened end for getting into those tight, awkward corners and easily threading through and around wires, bands, and brackets.

Material: Unspecified | Usage: For braces; use once or twice daily; insert stiffened end between teeth or around oral appliances, then thread string/floss as usual | Flavor: Mint

Final Verdict

We recommend Cocofloss Coconut-Oil Infused Woven Dental Floss. It’s shred-resistant and woven with more than 500 fibers to move debris between your teeth, plus it slides in smoothly, is gentle on gums, and has a mild flavor.

If you have braces, we suggest trying the Oral-B Super Floss Pre-Cut Strands. They dispense easily, fit in and around oral appliances and under the gum line, and come fitted with one stiff end for those stubborn spots that need a little extra attention.

How We Selected the Floss

To find the best dental flosses, we asked two dentists to tell us what to look for and avoid when choosing the right kind for you. While both dentists agreed that any floss is better than no floss, they strongly suggested looking for shred-resistant flosses with thicker, more woven textures versus the flat, gliding kinds that feel good but don’t have much scrubbing power. They also recommended steering clear of flosses containing chemicals like polyfluoroalkyls and, if you have sensitive teeth or are cavity-prone, looking for a floss with fluoride or other enamel-protective ingredients.

With those notes in mind, we scoured the internet for crowd-favorite dental flosses, considering more than two dozen products. We looked for thick, easy-to-use flosses, flosses designed to expand and optimize their scrubbing power, and flosses made with natural or cavity-fighting ingredients. We also included a few traditional floss alternatives, like picks and strands, for people with braces or dental appliances.

What to Look for in a Floss

Texture

Should you opt for a smooth, thin floss that glides easily between your teeth or one that’s a little rougher, made of woven fibers? Most dentists don’t care as long as you’re using some kind of floss, but if you’re really going for the flossing gold here, there is a difference between the smooth and rough kinds of floss.

“The floss that is probably the most widely used is made of teflon-coated shred-resistant polymer fibers, [and] when you have tight contacts between your teeth, this is probably the most comfortable floss to use,” says Dr. Lau. 

But comfort doesn’t necessarily equal effective, Dr. Lau adds: “I personally think that floss is too smooth to truly scrub your teeth; you wouldn't clean your pots and pans with a smooth, satiny cloth, you [would] use the scrubby side of your sponge.”

If your teeth can handle it, choose a textured, thicker floss with a wax coating, per Dr. Lau’s recommendations: smooth floss will leave a lot of plaque behind, he says, even in avid flossers, but textured floss grabs onto enough plaque to really clean your teeth.

Ease of Use

You’ll have to consider your own oral circumstances when choosing a floss—like if you have braces, or wide gaps between your teeth—as well as your manual dexterity. 

“I recommend patients use floss that is most suited to their situation,” says Daniel Reich, DMD, director of Periodontics at Touro College of Dental Medicine. “If a patient has crowding or tight contacts between their teeth, they should use a thinner floss; if [they have] larger spaces, then dental tape may be a better choice.”

People with braces and people who struggle to manipulate string floss may find it easier to use a pick or even a water flosser to be sure they’re getting easily into all the nooks and crannies between their teeth.

Chemical-Free

Some extra-smooth, shred-resistant floss is made with a type of chemical called polyfluoroalkyls, or PFAs; the same kinds often used in non-stick Teflon coatings, which certainly make the floss glide seamlessly through your teeth. But are they safe?

Dr. Lau cites a 2019 study in the Journal of Exposure Science & Environmental Epidemiology that raised concerns about the presence of PFAs in some types of dental floss, since these substances have been linked to some cancers. At the same time, the American Dental Association (ADA) questioned the results of that study, pushing back on the idea that PFAs in dental floss could be harmful.

Whichever side you take in the PFAs debate, know that you have a lot of choices when it comes to picking a floss—and it’s easy to play it safe.

“There are so many options for floss out there, and most do not contain any PFAs,” says Dr. Lau. “Take a look at what goes into [these] products, but I think if you stick to a waxed, textured floss, you will probably avoid these controversial chemicals and [still] get the true desired effect of scrubbing your teeth.”

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Does dental floss expire?

    Not really, though flavored or wax floss may change in taste in texture when floss is kept around for long periods of time, Dr. Lau says: “Floss is often flavored or waxed or both, [and] over time the wax can get old, and the scent and the flavor can go away, but the floss is not really harmful [or unsafe to use].”

  • Should you brush before or after brushing your teeth?

    We’re going to attempt to settle a long-lived debate right here and now: what’s more effective, flossing before or after brushing?
    According to Dr. Reich, the latest research comes down in favor of flossing before brushing. He cites a 2018 study published in the Journal of Periodontology, which compared plaque reduction in two groups: brushing first, then flossing, and flossing first, then brushing. The results showed that plaque reduction was significantly higher in the group that flossed before brushing than in the group that flossed after brushing. We recommend a floss first, brush second routine for maximum clean-mouth potential.

  • What should you do if your gums regularly bleed after flossing?

    Bleeding gums can be caused by multiple things, some a sign of gum disease and some easily reversible.
    “Bleeding gums is a sign of inflammation, which is often due to ineffective removal of plaque,” says Dr. Reich, “[but] it can also be the result of overaggressive flossing, which is causing trauma to the gum tissue.”
    You may also have bleeding gums if you are on certain medications (such as blood thinners), if you have a vitamin deficiency, or if you are pregnant.
    Since it’s hard for patients to know what the source of their bleeding is, the best course of action is to talk with your dentist about your experience, says Dr. Reich. Your dentist can then refer you to a gum specialist, or periodontist, if necessary.

Why Trust Verywell Health

Sarah Bradley has been writing health content since 2017—everything from product roundups and illness FAQs to nutrition explainers and the dish on diet trends. She knows how important it is to receive trustworthy and expert-approved advice about over-the-counter products that manage everyday health conditions, from GI issues and allergies to chronic headaches and joint pain.

6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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