You’ve probably heard it a thousand times.
You need to floss.
But do you actually do it? Well, if statistics are any indication, you probably don’t.
Only 4 in 10 Americans floss every day and 20% never do. In fact, many Americans prefer washing the dishes or even cleaning the toilet over flossing.
So what’s behind this widespread aversion to flossing?
For most, flossing is simply too tedious and inconvenient. They would rather spend their time doing something else. Plus, it’s easy to forget to do it.
But the benefits of flossing are well worth the two minutes it takes to do every day. So let’s go over them:
The Benefits of Flossing
Along with keeping the spaces between your teeth clean, flossing helps with all of the following:
- It helps remove plaque that can otherwise harden into tartar and lead to gum disease, aka gingivitis. In severe cases, it could lead to extreme forms of gum disease like periodontitis, which may involve swollen and bleeding gums and tooth loss.
- Flossing helps prevent general tooth decay. It keeps cavities from forming.
- It helps eliminate bad breath, aka halitosis.
- It may help prevent heart disease. Although there is no solid evidence for this, studies have found a correlation between heart disease and poor dental hygiene.
- Flossing is very low-cost. You can find floss for less than a dollar at your local grocery store.
- And as long as you don’t floss too hard, it won’t harm your teeth.
Now that you know the benefits of flossing, you should try to make it a daily habit. Make reminders for yourself so you don’t forget.
How to Floss
Before you start flossing, get some floss approved by the American Dental Association (ADA) if you can.
Flosses come waxed or unwaxed. On the one hand, waxed flosses have a wax coating that makes them stronger and less likely to break. On the other hand, unwaxed flosses are thinner, so they can fit between your teeth better. Neither has been proven to be better than the other, so just choose what works best for you.
Once you have your floss, break off a piece of about 18 inches and hold each of its ends tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
Thread the floss between your teeth and gently move it back and forth without pressing too hard. You’ll also want to be especially careful in and around any tooth replacement you might have like dental implants.
Go through each tooth this way, moving from the back to the front. When you’re done, throw the floss away. You won’t want to use a used piece of floss twice as it might carry bacteria back into your mouth.
If you need to see how it’s done in person, ask your dentist. They can show you how to floss properly.
Floss at least once per day for about 2 minutes. It’s also recommended that you floss before brushing your teeth so you can rinse out all the plaque after brushing.
Finally, if you can’t quite handle regular floss, there are other flossing options out there. For example, you can try water flossers, air flossers, interdental brushes, or even picks. Find a solution that works for you, but do it regularly.
Flossing is a highly neglected part of dental hygiene. But the truth is that adults and even kids should floss regularly if they want to have a healthy mouth.
So get into the habit of flossing today. Years down the road, you’ll be glad you did.