Dental floss tape is a type of tape designed to provide everyday oral hygiene and to help maintain healthy gingival health. Medical workers and dental hygienists use dental floss tape on patients’ gingival surfaces today, especially to help prevent plaque from developing. Doctors among us use dental floss tape to tape gingival edges together to make the gingival tissues easier to clean, prevent bleeding, and break down plaque. It also prevents gingival pathogens, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses, from sticking to the gingival tissue.



A study published in 2010 in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise studied the use of dental tape and found people who used the product as indicated actually had poorer oral hygiene (i.e., chewing not cleaned properly) than those who didn’t use the products.

The ADA lists the benefits of dental tape in four ways: it dethrones plaque and prevents tooth erosion; it mimics the functionality of toothbrushes by removing germs and debris that can irritate gums; dental tape carries toothpaste for oral care and maintains tooth alignment and suggests a better seal; and it lubricates and aids in lowering gingival resistance for dental procedures such as braces and x-rays.

There are, however, some downsides to dental tape and flossing. First, some people have a stronger sense of taste than others. Also, the ADA says there are some risks associated with improper use and that using them improperly can decrease the efficacy of the products. Even though these products are marketed as dental aids, they are not intended to replace a dentist’s practice.

Before you buy it, make sure to read the directions, says Kevin Gaines, DMD, of Baltimore Specialty Dental Care.


Flossing is a way of massaging the tooth surfaces, including between the upper teeth and those on both sides. This intervention helps to open the gums and relax the tooth surfaces, both of which have a high frequency of savaged surfaces (i.e., erosion), he says.

When excess floss accumulates between the teeth or scrapes between the teeth and the surrounding gums, saliva is forced into the space, causing it to be lifted off the tooth and make its way into your surrounding oral cavity. Your dentist may offer a rinse or ice pack as a prophylactic measure, says Sandra McAtee, DMD, of Orlando Specialty Dental Care. Beyond that, you can scrub the surfaces yourself with dental floss, toothpicks and dental tape, Dr. Gaines says.

But if you have a particularly exposed tooth or happen to have a weakened immune system or never gain immunity, dental floss might be your solution, regardless of whether you need a stronger regimen, since it contains bacteria-fighting, probiotic agents, says Dr. McAtee. There is also evidence that dental tape may work as well for teeth.


You may not have the immunity you did before, but finding teeth free of cavities can be as good as a Crest or Colgate or ProTai prevention program, says Jim White, DMD, aka The Moustache Man. Also, a site-specific brushing may help if that tooth wasn’t fixed.

“My advice is to first brush on the affected side and then the other just once, because you will more quickly remove oral debris that the toothbrush can’t reach,” he says. “I believe the toothbrush may also present more surface area and cavities to spread out in, resulting in less damage.”


The ADA warns flossing and dental tape can be uncomfortable for some people and may cause dental discomfort for others when not used properly. It should also be noted that these products have not undergone the rigorous testing or evaluation that other products have, Gaines says. Even though dental floss and dental tape have been shown to reduce caries and gum disease, learning if they also promote healthy oral health is controversial.

Your dentist or your oral health professional can help you decide if dental flossing or dental tape is right for you. There are certainly other parts of the body that experience less exposure to oral bacteria than others.

Advantages and disadvantages of flossing and tapeing

Best for: Cleaning the walls, floors and trim around teeth and gums.

None of the dental professionals I spoke with specifically recommend flossing. Some say they roll the toothbrush against the tooth enamel to get more suction, but that can be messy and irritating. One pro tip: It’s easy to use things like Q-tips and cotton balls to clean surfaces.