What is Expanding Floss?

Micki Elizabeth
Micki Elizabeth
Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.

Expanding floss is a dental hygiene product meant to clean between the teeth. It grows thicker when it comes in contact with moisture, like saliva. The friction caused by running the floss between teeth can also cause this type of floss to expand. This expansion may help to produce better results and more effective flossing, because expanding floss is thought to clean more surfaces and wider spaces more thoroughly than other types of floss.

Expanding floss grows thicker when it comes into contact with moisture.
Expanding floss grows thicker when it comes into contact with moisture.

Many people, especially those with crowded or close together teeth, find it difficult to find a brand of floss thin enough to slip between tight spaces. The types of floss that are thin enough may then present the problem that they do not come in contact with enough surfaces to sufficiently clean hard-to-reach spaces in the mouth. Manufacturers of expanding floss tend to market the product specifically toward those who have a difficult time getting the results they desire from flossing. This is because the floss begins thin and flat and, thus, should be relatively easy to glide it between teeth.

Expanding floss may lead to more effective flossing.
Expanding floss may lead to more effective flossing.

As flossing is usually highly recommended in one’s daily dental hygiene routine, even those without crowded teeth could benefit from the use of expanding floss. Brushing the teeth, though an important step to maintaining a healthy mouth, cannot usually get to all of the spaces where trouble spots can form. When food or plaque is caught between teeth or along the gums, cavities or diseases such as gingivitis may develop. Expanding floss is thought to help ward off these potentially painful and costly problems.

Teeth should be flossed daily, despite professional cleaning sessions.
Teeth should be flossed daily, despite professional cleaning sessions.

Many consumers have noted favorable reviews of several brands of expanding floss. The product tends to be made of strong fibers that allow for expansion, so the floss is less likely to break or shred during use than other, cheaper fibers. Some customers, despite giving an overall favorable account of the floss, have cautioned that the expansion is difficult, if not impossible, to notice.

A good oral hygiene regimen may help prevent gingivitis, which can cause bone and tooth loss.
A good oral hygiene regimen may help prevent gingivitis, which can cause bone and tooth loss.

To get the best results possible from this product, one may wish to educate himself or ask a dentist for a short tutorial on proper flossing technique. Though the act might seem simple, dentists often note that flossing incorrectly, even with expanding floss, may not help much in the long run. One should try to avoid snapping the floss through the teeth and onto the gums, as doing so could cut the gums and leave the soft tissue open to bacteria.

Flossing the teeth is a good way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
Flossing the teeth is a good way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.

Expanding floss should be gently pulled all the way down to the gums until one feels a gentle resistance. Failure to clean deep enough into the gums may not yield great results. This particular type of floss can be, at times, difficult to find in retail stores, but may be purchased through many online retail outlets.

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Discussion Comments

anon160668

I would like to know what is in expanding dental floss that makes it expand with saliva. I hope it's not SAM, the super absorbent used in disposable diapers. Where are the ingredients found?

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    • Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
      Good dental hygiene is crucial for maintaining a healthy smile.
    • Expanding floss grows thicker when it comes into contact with moisture.
      Expanding floss grows thicker when it comes into contact with moisture.
    • Expanding floss may lead to more effective flossing.
      Expanding floss may lead to more effective flossing.
    • Teeth should be flossed daily, despite professional cleaning sessions.
      Teeth should be flossed daily, despite professional cleaning sessions.
    • A good oral hygiene regimen may help prevent gingivitis, which can cause bone and tooth loss.
      A good oral hygiene regimen may help prevent gingivitis, which can cause bone and tooth loss.
    • Flossing the teeth is a good way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
      Flossing the teeth is a good way to prevent gum disease and tooth loss.
    • A dental hygienist can teach patients the proper techniques for flossing and maintaining healthy teeth.
      A dental hygienist can teach patients the proper techniques for flossing and maintaining healthy teeth.
    • Dentists typically recommend using 18 inches of dental floss.
      Dentists typically recommend using 18 inches of dental floss.