Flossing your teeth is more important to your well-being than even brushing. So why do so many of us find reasons not to do it?
We’ve got excuses, but dentists have simple answers for them all.
Excuse No. 1: Food Never Gets Stuck In My Teeth
The main purpose of flossing isn’t to remove food from the teeth. It’s to get rid of plaque. Busting out the floss every day prevents gum disease and tooth loss. Everybody gets plaque, and it can only be removed by flossing or a deep cleaning from your dentist.
Excuse No. 2: I Don’t Know How to Floss
It’s “the most difficult personal grooming activity there is,” says Samuel B. Low, DDS, past president of the American Association of Periodontology. But it’s one of the most important to learn.
Use these tips to floss correctly:
• Use 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around your other middle finger.
• Grasp the string tightly between your thumb and forefinger, and use a rubbing motion to guide it between teeth.
• When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C to follow the shape of the tooth.
• Hold the strand firmly against the tooth, and move it gently up and down.
• Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth.
• Use fresh sections of floss as you go.
Don’t forget the back of your last molars. By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth.
Excuse No. 3: I’m Not Coordinated Enough to Floss
If you have trouble reaching the back of your mouth, ask your dentist about:
• Plastic, disposable, Y-shaped flossers that allow for extra reach
• Small, round brushes
• Pointed, rubber tips
• Wooden or plastic pics (called interdental cleaners)
A child will need your help to floss until he’s about 11 years old. Kids should start to floss as soon as they have two teeth that touch.
Excuse No. 4: I Don’t Have Time
Find a time of day that works for you. You should floss at least once a day. Two times is best.
Make it a part of your routine, morning and night. If you find you forget, store your floss with your toothbrush and toothpaste to remind yourself.
You don’t have to do it in front of your bathroom mirror. Keep some floss in your car to use while you’re in traffic. Stash some in your desk and use it after lunch. The key is to fit in flossing when it works for you.
Excuse No. 5: It Hurts
If your gums bleed or hurt, you may have gingivitis or gum disease. That’s an even bigger reason to floss.
If you brush and floss daily, the bleeding and pain should stop in less than 2 weeks. If it doesn’t, see your dentist.
Excuse No. 6: I’m Pregnant
It may be hard to floss if you’re tired or nauseated. But it’s important to keep up with your brushing and flossing routine. Pregnancy can cause a wide range of dental issues, from gum disease to enamel wear.
Excuse No. 7: My Teeth Are Too Close Together
Try waxed or glide floss for an easier fit. If you have recessed gums, varied gaps between teeth, or braces, you can also try a threader or loop to find an easier entry point. If your floss shreds, you may have a cavity or a problem with dental work, like a broken crown or loose filling. Ask your dentist to take a look.
Modern Health Perspectives