The question of whether waxed or unwaxed dental floss is preferred by people has been explored in great detail by a study titled "Patient Preference for Waxed or Unwaxed Dental Floss," which was published in the Journal of Periodontology in 1990. Despite being written over two decades ago, the findings of this report are still largely undisputed today.

Manufacturers of dental floss may be interested in knowing which type is more commonly purchased, while health officials may want to know which is more effective in promoting dental health. However, Dr. Robert H. Beaumont, Chief of Periodontics at the Grand Forks Air Force Base in North Dakota, chose to focus on the simple question of which type of floss people "prefer" in their hearts. He asked 100 patients for their personal preference, allowing them to choose either waxed or unwaxed dental floss.

It is important to acknowledge the work of Charles C. Bass, who pioneered the development of specifically formulated unwaxed nylon floss and the popularization of oral hygiene techniques that are still used today. Beaumont followed Bass’s revolutionary vision, dispensing unmarked containers of floss to patients and asking them to apply it between their teeth. Half the patients were given waxed dental floss first, followed by unwaxed floss, while the other half received the opposite order.

After using both types of floss, patients were asked which one they preferred. According to Beaumont’s report, "all had an immediate and clear floss preference after performing the test." The majority of patients (79%) preferred waxed floss, while the remaining 21% preferred unwaxed floss. Beaumont also asked patients to give their opinion on the floss quality, and he found that people who preferred unwaxed floss cited it as thinner, while those who preferred waxed floss had no specific issue with its ease of use.

Despite the perception that unwaxed floss is superior for plaque removal and dental health, previous research studies have concluded that there is no difference between waxed and unwaxed floss in terms of plaque removal, gingival response, crevicular fluid flow, and gingival bleeding. In fact, Beaumont found that an "unsubstantiated belief in the superiority of unwaxed floss" has persisted to this day.


  • kaydenmarsh

    I am Kayden Marsh, 34yo educational blogger and school teacher. I am a mother of two young children, and I love spending time with them and learning new things. I also enjoy writing about education and children's issues, and I hope to continue doing so for the rest of my life.

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