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What are Floss Sticks?

M.C. Huguelet
Updated May 17, 2024
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Floss sticks (also sometimes known as floss picks) are small, single-use dental instruments which provide a mess-free tooth flossing experience. They usually consist of a plastic body with a forked end-piece that is tightly strung with a short piece of dental floss. The floss is worked into the spaces between the teeth to remove built-up food particles and plaque, and the stick is then discarded. While primitive versions of the floss stick have existed for many decades, they have been increasingly refined over the years for optimal performance and ease of use.

Most floss sticks consist of a thin plastic body that measures approximately two inches (5.08 cm) in length. This plastic component is usually shaped like a U with a small handle projecting from the curve’s base. Each stick is “pre-loaded” with a small length of dental floss strung tightly across the open part of the U. The unique design of these sticks enables a user to clean the spaces between her teeth with far less floss than traditional flossing methods require. In addition, they do not pinch the fingers, as regular floss has a tendency to do.

Using a floss stick is fairly straightforward. The user simply holds the stick-end between her thumb, index, and middle fingers, and then works the floss into the spaces between her teeth to remove built-up plaque and food remnants. After she finishes flossing, she can simply discard the stick. It should be noted that individual floss sticks are intended for one-time use only.

The first floss sticks were often poorly designed and awkward to use, and thus did not gain significant favor with the public. Modern sticks are designed with performance and user comfort in mind, however, making them increasingly popular. Many have ergonomic handles that are easy to grip. Some feature pointed handle-ends which can be used to scrape plaque from the spots that floss cannot easily reach, such as the place where the gums meet the front of the teeth. In addition, modern floss sticks also frequently feature strip-style floss, which slides between the teeth more easily and comfortably than regular floss.

For the most part, floss sticks are produced by manufacturers of traditional spool-style flosses, toothbrushes, and toothpastes. The sticks are widely available from grocery stores and pharmacies. They are usually sold in multi-packs, which generally include anywhere from a two-week to a three-month supply of sticks.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
M.C. Huguelet
By M.C. Huguelet , Former Writer
Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide range of publications, including WiseGeek. With degrees in Writing and English, she brings a unique perspective and a commitment to clean, precise copy that resonates with readers. Her ability to understand and connect with audiences makes her a valuable asset to any content creation team.

Discussion Comments

By anon100970 — On Aug 01, 2010

If you haven't tried water flossing then that is definitely the way to go. It is painless and effective and removes any food debris left behind by brushing. It really is worth a try. It is good for children as well as it has different water pressure settings to suit each child’s age.

M.C. Huguelet

M.C. Huguelet

Former Writer

Cate Huguelet, a Chicago-based freelance writer with a passion for storytelling, crafts engaging content for a wide...
Learn more
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