A dental floss threader is a thin piece of straight plastic with a loop on one end, used to floss around braces. The floss threader looks like a large plastic needle, with the exception of being dull on the end. Braces and other dental devices placed on the teeth make it tricky to floss. While a typical person can simply wrap the floss around two fingers and slide it up and down between the teeth, those who wear braces often find that the metal wires prevent the floss from sliding down between two teeth. To get around this problem, the person must slide floss underneath the wire, a tricky task using a flimsy piece of dental floss.
This is where the dental floss threader comes into action. First the person slides one end of the dental floss through the eye, or loop, of the dental floss threader as if he were threading a needle. Next he pulls the end of the dental floss through so it won't slide back out. Once the dental floss is in place, he slides the straight end of the dental floss threader underneath the wire of his braces and then slides the floss out of the threader. The floss is now under the wire between two teeth, and he can floss those two teeth as normal.
Problems with the dental floss threader can result from the hassle of using it. While threading it and sliding it under the braces is easy and only takes a few seconds, this process must be repeated between each tooth since the braces prevent the user from simply sliding the floss over to the next two teeth. For this reason, many people simply choose not to floss at all instead of taking the time to perform the tedious task of flossing with braces.
Not flossing the teeth can have harmful results, however. Though cavities and gum disease are certainly a risk for anyone who doesn't floss, those wearing braces also face the risk of staining their teeth. The braces are more likely to trap food and plaque under them, which makes it crucial to keep the teeth as clean as possible. If the teeth are not properly cleaned, white squares in the shape of the brackets may appear on each tooth once the braces are removed. The white stains are permanent, and treatment to reduce their appearance is often expensive and time consuming.