As a general dentist in practice for 40 years, I can say without hesitation that most patients do not floss daily. You can have the best hygienists and the finest education on flossing, yet far too many patients still do not consistently floss. Many floss the day before they see the hygienist, or a few days after, but—much like a resolution for the new year—sticking to this daily commitment is easier said than done.
Various studies provide differing statistics on the percentage of Americans who floss, but none present positive findings. This begs the questions, “Are patients flossing correctly?” and “What is holding them back from making it a daily practice?” With the current techniques and options for flossing, it is no wonder why many choose to simply brush and rinse.
Enter SLATE, a game changer in the flossing world. How, might you ask?
It was designed by Danny Snyder, DDS, whose intent was to revolutionize flossing and make it more enjoyable for everyone. He invented a powerful flossing device with 12,000 sonic vibrations/min, making flossing far easier and more likely to become a daily habit. With its slim design, SLATE goes beyond merely guiding users to floss correctly.
SLATE Electric Flosser
The SLATE Electric Flosser utilizes its Gum Sweeps—strategically placed bristles and ribs that are meant to emulate the shape of the teeth and gums. The Gum Sweeps remove plaque that would otherwise be untouched by normal brushing. It has 3 rows of rubber bristles designed to clean while still maintaining a comfortable experience. The flosser also features a tongue scraper that can be used to clean bacteria off the tongue. Floss heads can be exchanged, cleaned, and removed as needed, touting a greener and more sustainable way to floss. It is recommended for replacement every week.
Its design includes built-in silicon bristles, known as gum sweepers, for proximal gum stimulation. Additionally, on the backside of the flosser is a tongue scraper that helps remove bacteria, food debris, and dead cells. For orthodontic patients in brackets, SLATE has created a specific insert, making it simple for those patients to properly floss—an orthodontist’s dream come true.
As for my experience with SLATE, I found that inserting the disposable heads is straightforward and easy. Each insert can last up to 2 weeks with a full dentition (the company recommends 1 per week), so 1 insert may last far longer with patients having fewer teeth. The technique is easy: Insert the floss head between 2 teeth, move vertically on each proximal surface, and then proceed in a buccal-to-lingual direction to allow the gum sweeps to stimulate your proximal tissues (my favorite). Then simply flip the handle over, scrap the dorsal surface of the tongue and rinse away the gunk. The total time is often less than a minute.
You might be wondering whether I have always been a daily flosser, and the answer is no. Since discovering SLATE, I now incorporate flossing into my daily routine because it is so simple and straightforward, providing me with a much-improved overall experience compared with traditional flossing. In our practice, the doctors loved SLATE, as did the majority of Catapult reviewers. It was interesting to learn that some of the hygienists who reviewed the product felt it was a superior product overall but still liked the traditional method.
On the other hand, patients, including my friends and family, found that they were all flossing and tongue scraping more often with the SLATE Electric Flosser (Figures 1 and 2).
SLATE’s beta testers found that many patients had improved probings with less bleeding on probing, and this would be attributed to 3 factors: daily usage, utilizing the correct flossing technique, and the gum stimulators (which allow you not only to massage the gingiva but to create an additional path to remove plaque and debris). These same beta testers found that patients with dexterity issues improved their home care by implementing SLATE into their normal daily oral hygiene routine. This is a key point, especially for geriatric patients. As we all have witnessed in our practices, the need for superior home care and prevention increases with this aging population. The SLATE Electric Flosser, like water flossers, should become routine as recommendations from our hygiene teams.
Here are some key metrics from our Catapult evaluation:
- Two-thirds of the evaluators gave this electric flosser the highest approval rating, with many commenting that they have already shifted to SLATE (including myself, my kids, and my siblings).
- More than half of the evaluators noted SLATE cleaned better interproximally than traditional floss (you feel far more control and have a different tactile sense).
- The group overall felt the retail pricing was appropriate at $79 (with 4 floss heads included).
- The group felt the refill pricing at $25 for 20 floss heads was very value oriented.
- Some felt the floss heads (Figure 3) did not last as long as the company states, 7 to 10 days (I have found them to last 2 weeks).
Figure 3. Inserting the disposable heads is straightforward and easy.
Comments from our evaluators include:
- “Cool concept, easy to learn.”
- “I feel that it is doing a fantastic job cleaning interproximally.”
- “The way it stimulates the gums…and it’s easy to use.”
- “I love both the flosser and stimulator.”
- “This is such a winner for those that have trouble (which is a lot) manipulating floss.”
The SLATE Electric Flosser is powered by 2 AA batteries (lasting around 6 months) and the company’s team has plans for a rechargeable unit along with potentially offering a future model with multiple vibration settings. From using my own SLATE device, I have found that the floss begins to break down after about 7 to 10 uses. The floss is woven by hundreds of strands and this construction works to remove plaque. Additionally, the floss has no wax, no toxins, no Teflon, and no polytetrafluoroethylene or polyfluoroalkyl substances.
You might ask, what about cleaning beyond just rinsing? There are many cleansing products for aligners and nighttime appliances, and these can be used in the same manner if you so desire.
SLATE is a game changer in the world of flossing and oral care, and we are thrilled to have evaluated this product and give it the Catapult Vote of Confidence™.