What’s the Difference Between Waxed and Non-Waxed Floss?

What's the difference between waxed and un-waxed floss? Learn all about it in this post.

by Dr. Burhenne

What's the Difference Between Waxed and Non-Waxed Floss?

I've always noticed that there's waxed and un-waxed floss. What's the difference? And which is better?

A: Waxed floss has a coating that makes it easier to get floss between teeth that are tightly spaced together. Unwaxed floss isn’t coated, so it’s thinner and won’t have any flavoring. As for which is better, it depends on personal preference.

Which Is More Effective?

The best floss is the one you’re going to use!

Seriously, pick the floss that you enjoy the most and is most comfortable. Get your favorite flavor so you actually have something to look forward to.

Manufacturers claim that waxed floss removes more plaque than un-waxed floss, but studies show that any floss will do.

If you’re concerned about removing more plaque, study up on your flossing technique.

Choose based on what makes it easiest and most comfortable for you to floss.

Waxed Floss Might Be for You If:

  • You like how it feels.
  • You find a flavor that motivates you.
  • Your teeth are tightly spaced together.
  • Floss tends to break in between your teeth.
  • You’re a beginner flosser trying to make the habit.

Unwaxed Floss Might Be for You If:

  • You want a thinner floss that’s easier to maneuver.
  • You want to avoid the chemicals in waxed floss.
  • You have crowded teeth.
  • You’re pregnant and want an unflavored floss that won’t trigger nausea.
  • You don’t like the lingering taste of flavored waxed floss, which can interfere with how food tastes.

Expanding Floss

There’s a third type of floss that has fibers that expand slightly when you get in between the teeth. These can be great for grabbing more plaque.

I really like Dr. Tung’s Smart Floss (I’m not paid or compensated for this recommendation — this is actually what I use and like). It’s woven and stretches slightly once in between your teeth, removing more plaque. It’s also coated in beeswax instead of plastic or tTeflonlike most waxed floss.

Chemicals in Waxed Floss

Here’s one problem I have with waxed floss: it’s coated in Teflon.

One of my favorites used to be Glide Pro-Health by Oral-B. It feels really good in between your gums and leaves you with a tingling clean mint feeling. It’s not so thin that you feel like you’re cutting yourself. It never breaks. It glides in between teeth and makes flossing a joy (seriously!) so I still recommend it to people who hate flossing.

But when I found out that Glide Pro-Health is coated in the same stuffTeflonflon pans (PTFE), I stopped using it. In general, I try to minimize my contact with industrial chemicals — in this case Teflon and petroleum — for health reasons. If you don’t need the help of waxed floss, why expose yourself to the chemicals?

My Recommendation

  • If you don’t want to expose yourself to anything that’s potentially harmful, go with unwaxed floss or Dr. Tung’s expanding floss.
  • If waxed floss makes it easier for you to get in the habit, use it!
  • The best floss is the one you actually use.

Mark Burhenne DDS

I am not paid or compensated in any way for the products mentioned in this post. My mission is to keep AsktheDentist.com unbiased and to recommend products that work based on science and my own testing — not paid endorsements by companies. If you have any questions about my policy, don’t hesitate to ask me: [email protected]

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Leave a Comment

  1. Dear Dr. Mark B and the talented family team,
    I absolutely LOVE your blogs, writing style, the blog format and the ease of reading!!!!
    Keep writing and shining the light on the importance of dental care, which is NOT emphasized enough in the current “health” care system by MDs and DDSs in USA.
    Please address the issue of treating root canals and alternatives, may be some natural solutions if known to you.
    Thanks, ShantiDoc, an Unconventional Pharmacist

    • Wow, Shanti, that’s an enormous compliment and I appreciate it so much that you took the time to comment! Root canals are on my list of topics to go more in depth about, as I know it’s something lots of readers are asking about — especially when it comes to natural alternatives and prevention. Watch this space for more on this soon 🙂

  2. First off, thanks for the tip on Dr. Tung’s; it’s a lead I need.

    But: Why, oh why do all the stores (both brick-and-mortar, NYC, and online) heavily promote waxed? I haven’t been able to find my favorite unwaxed, thick versions in the last two months, and I’m desperate!!! My dental hygienist always praises how she can only find a small bit of plaque in my bottom front teeth because I’m a habitual flosser (I’d rather floss than brush if I had only one choice), but the manufacturers or stores seem to cater to people who have bad habits, not good.

    What’s going on? Help!!!!

  3. After reading Charles C. Bass and his classic research from the 30’s and 40’s I will never use waxed floss. It also just does not make any sense: why would you “cover” plaque or bad bacteria with wax?? Wax is great for your car, not teeth. Brush first, then unwaxed floss!

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