Dental Picks vs Floss: Which is Better?

Single-Use bamboo dental floss

Until recent years, dental flossing was a pretty straightforward process. But now, there are a variety of ways we can remove plaque and particles between our teeth and gums. So which way is best? Let’s explore two of the most common flossing methods to determine which is better: dental picks vs floss. 

Dental Picks, What are Those?

Relatively new on the market, dental picks are plastic tools with a curved end and another side with a small pick (think: a toothpick). On the curved end, there are two prongs which hold a thin piece of floss. 

Most dental picks are single-use and must be thrown away after being used. Some have no-slip grip handles to make them easier to hold, while others come with a portion that serves as a tongue scraper. 

Pros and Cons of Dental Picks

Why have people moved on from conventional floss to these dental picks? Let’s take a look at some of the pros to using one.

Dental picks: pros

  • May make it easier to reach back teeth
  • Improved maneuverability for people with mobility issues or arthritis
  • Dual purpose (pick to get large pieces of food between teeth)
  • Travel-friendly
  • May be better suited for dental implants

While dental picks may provide a quicker, more hands-off way to clean between teeth, it isn’t all good news for this dental trend. Here are some dental pick cons.

Dental picks: cons

  • More expensive
  • Can be dangerous to gums
  • More wasteful
  • Difficult to use
  • Redistributes bacteria and food particles to different spaces between teeth
  • Doesn’t contour as well to the natural shape of teeth and gums

So, are floss picks bad? Not necessarily. If it’s the difference between you flossing and never caring for the tiny spaces between your teeth and gums, dental picks are better than nothing at all. But there is a better option. 

Stick with the Original: Traditional Dental Floss

Whether you’re just learning how to use dental floss or you're quite a fluent flosser, it’s recommended that you just use conventional dental floss. When we consider the floss picks vs dental floss argument, there are a few key ways conventional dental floss stands out.

More affordable

When it comes to dental picks, you can expect to spend anywhere from $4.99 to $33+ on a pack of 50 dental picks, which provide 50 uses. On the other hand, a single roll of dental floss (roughly 32-33 yards) can last about two months. This gives you 60 uses for $2.50 to $14—roughly half the price of dental picks for more uses! 

Easier and safer to use

Dental floss provides flexibility, making it easier to effectively get in between teeth. Because dental picks use floss that is in a fixed position, it can result in gum damage. 

Worse, there have been cases of people accidentally swallowing dental picks! In this case, they may end up making their way down into the lungs, where they could remain for years, or cause severe problems.   

Better for the environment

Just as the extra components make dental picks more expensive, it also adds an additional cost for our planet. Most often, the pick and the pieces that hold the dental floss are made with plastic—which will take hundreds, if not thousands, of years to slowly degrade in landfills (releasing microplastics as they do!).

Even if conventional, nylon-based dental floss is used, the smaller size makes it a more sustainable alternative. For even more planet-friendly flossing, silk or vegan bamboo floss are better choices. 

More thorough

Because it’s flexible and not just a tiny piece of floss, string dental floss is more capable of forming the “C” shape to effectively clean teeth. Because of its length, it can be wound and unwound so that a new piece of floss is used between each set of teeth—which reduces the risk of bacteria spreading throughout the mouth. 

Travel-friendly

Thanks to things like our Single-Use Dental Floss, even one of the benefits of dental picks (travel-friendliness) can’t outcompete with the original. Because this convenient sachet features award-winning bamboo floss with vegan candelilla wax, it’s extremely easy and sustainable to use, too. 

What About Other Flossing Alternatives? 

So, we know that good ol’ dental floss is better than dental picks, but what about all of those other newfangled flossing tools out there? Here’s the low-down. 

Waterpik vs flossing

While a Waterpik is a great tool for someone who has braces, bridgework, dental implants, crowns, or another dental implement that may make flossing difficult or dangerous, they’re not well-suited for everyone. 


True Waterpiks can get into hard-to-reach regions of the mouth, but they may not remove that much plaque from the teeth. Not only that, but they’re a far more expensive option, not as travel-friendly, and can be very messy. 

Interdental brushes vs flossing

Interdental brushes are like very narrow toothbrushes that are designed to fit in the space between your teeth. Used properly, they can be just as effective in removing food particles and bacteria. 

However, if the wrong size is used or the brush is used inappropriately, it can inadvertently cause gaps between the teeth. Often referred to as “black triangles,” some have reported triangle-shaped spaces at the top of the teeth. 

Final Thoughts on Dental Picks vs Floss

As a summary of the floss picks vs floss considerations, floss picks aren’t necessarily bad, but they do come with some oral health, affordability, and sustainability downsides. As such, conventional dental floss is generally deemed the best choice for cleaning the spaces where the teeth meet the gums. From a sustainability perspective, biodegradable and vegan bamboo charcoal dental floss is even better—so give Terra & Co.’s Brilliant Black Dental Floss a try today! 

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