How To's

The better way to “floss” on the go

We’ve all been there — you’ve just finished a meal out with family or friends or had a quick lunch before heading back to work and now have food bits stuck in your teeth.  Could be the iconic large chunk of spinach or the small bits no one else can see, but you feel it all the same.  They really need to go!  Flossing usually isn’t the answer in these situations.  For one, it takes time to do it right and quite honestly, who really wants to see someone (or be seen) flossing across the table?  

So what do you reach for instead?  Maybe it’s floss picks or regular toothpicks — both of which have some definite downsides.  Is there a better option? 

Let’s start with those downsides — why you might not want to be using floss picks or toothpicks.  Then we’ll introduce you to a seriously better (dare we say perfect?) way to clean between teeth on the go.  

Why NOT floss picks…

Wherever you go, there they are — in the parking lots, on the beach and trails — we’ve seen them everywhere.  While some are made of corn starch (is it non-GMO?) or so-called compostable materials, many are made of some form of plastic.  Even some of the compostable versions made with corn starch also include PP (polypropylene). PP is recyclable, however only about 1% of all polypropylene in the United States is actually recycled.1 

We know that we should use a clean, new section of floss when flossing.  When you use the same section of floss on all your teeth, you risk spreading plaque and bacteria between your teeth. To minimize bacteria spreading from tooth to tooth, you would need to use multiple picks to floss all of your teeth due to the short piece of floss in each pick.  That’s a lot of extra plastic that usually ends up where we’ve all seen it — on the ground.

discarded flosser / Photograph by Claudia Gavin
Photograph by Claudia Gavin

Why NOT good old-fashioned toothpicks…

Even though ‘toothpick’ includes the word ‘tooth’, a ‘toothpick’ (aka cocktail stick) really shouldn’t go anywhere near your teeth or gums. Toothpicks are not flexible and if used with too much pressure, the toothpick can break or splinter.  Those rounded spears of unbendable wood (usually hard bamboo) can do harm to both teeth and gums. Pushing such cocktail sticks between teeth can put sideways pressure on teeth leading to spaces between teeth (not good!).  And overzealous picking with thick, rounded toothpicks can cause damage to existing dental work like fillings or veneers or create fractures on tooth enamel, or even damage tooth roots if they are exposed.2 3  

Did you know that most toothpicks are also bleached to lighten the color and make them look uniform?  Acid, bleach, harsh chemicals, and even preservatives are often used in the manufacturing process.4  Suffice it to say, it might be best to save the common toothpick/cocktail stick for something other than picking your teeth (google ‘toothpick hacks’ for some great ideas...LOL).  

And now for the seriously better dental stick…

Perio Sticks™ are professionally designed, not round but flattened, dental sticks with tapered ends that fit between teeth to gently remove food particles.  When the stick is moved back and forth, food particles are being removed AND your gums are being massaged simultaneously.  They come in two sizes — Thin and X-Thin — to fit normal or tight spaces.

Perio Sticks are made from sustainable, eco-certified Nordic birch (PEFC) that is unbleached and naturally antibacterial.  When moistened, the stick becomes pliable and flexible, making it easier to access interdental spaces towards the back of the mouth. 

They’re also biodegradable. If you accidentally drop a Perio Stick on the ground you know it won’t be sticking around like plastic picks that litter parks, sidewalks and beaches. But we encourage you to drop your Perio Stick in the recycle bin.

That’s a lot of wins !!!!

The takeaway…

Perio Sticks are perfect for on the go! When you can’t floss because you are in a meeting, driving your car, on a plane or wherever, pull out your box of Perio Sticks — remove the food in between your teeth and treat your gums to a massage. The FSC-certified paperboard box fits easily in your pocket, purse, or yoga bag. They’re the perfect after-meal (snack) companion.

Remember, even amazing Perio Sticks are not a substitute for regular flossing — make sure that flossing is part of your daily oral routine. 

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