When it comes to your oral hygiene, flossing is just as important (if not more) than brushing your teeth. Flossing is the most effective weapon to use in the never-ending battle against plaque. While the majority of Americans brush their teeth twice daily, less than one third of the population incorporates flossing into their daily routine. In fact, flossing is such a dreaded task that 73% of Americans would rather go shopping for groceries than floss!
The fact that people are failing to floss daily is even more surprising when you consider that your smile is the most-noticed feature on your face when meeting new people. Most Americans are unhappy with their smile but fail to realize that a solution for a cleaner mouth and brighter smile can be wrapped around your finger (pun intended). The purpose of this blog post is not to undermine the importance of brushing your teeth two times per day, but to stress the importance of integrating flossing into your daily routine as well.
Why You Should Care
Floss, first commercially manufactured in 1882, was originally made from silk. Nowadays, floss is made from synthetic wax, nylon or Teflon. Whether your floss is minty or unflavored, waxed or unwaxed, wide or normal sized, it’s all designed to do one thing – fight plaque – and plaque never sleeps. A toothbrush effectively removes plaque from the top and outer surfaces of the teeth and gums, while floss is considered an interdental cleaner, meaning it’s specifically designed to clean the tight spaces between the teeth. When flossing daily, it is recommended to use a strand of floss no shorter than 12 inches. This would translate to using at least 365 feet of floss per year, yet the average American falls far short of that mark and purchases a mere 18 yards of floss annually.
Aside from the health benefits of flossing regularly, the routine will save you money in the long run. Most major dental procedures stem from the improper care of your mouth, so developing good flossing habits is one of the best preemptive actions you can take to stay out of the dental chair. A healthy mouth also helps to prevent much more serious health issues.
Take It From Me
As a dentist, I hear some great excuses as to why my patients are not flossing. Two of the most common pleas I hear are:
- “It makes my gums bleed”
- “I don’t have time to floss”
What most people do not know is that healthy gums won’t bleed no matter how hard you brush or floss. Unhealthy gums, on the other hand, are full of blood and even the smallest irritation can cause the gums to bleed. Your body’s immune system sends an abundance of blood to unhealthy gums to fight bacteria and infections. If you are not a habitual flosser your gums may bleed, but stick with it and your gums will become healthy relatively quickly. Most patients say that the bleeding stops after a week of regular flossing. The more you floss, the healthier your gums become, and they less they’ll bleed.
In my opinion, the latter excuse regarding not having enough time to floss is on par with “My dog ate my homework!” Everyone has plenty of time to make flossing a daily habit. Flossing does not need to be done in front of a mirror or even right before or after brushing. Flossing can be done anytime, anywhere (I flossed as I wrote this blog post!). Many of my clients will floss on their morning commute (eyes on the road please) or at their desk. On hold with customer service? Floss. Watching the Monday Night Football game? Floss.
You Can Do It!
My point here is that it is easy to find time to floss. Because it’s so cheap, I encourage my clients to purchase a few rolls of floss and strategically place them at home and at work. There’s never a bad time to floss and your mouth (and dentist) will be thankful. All you have to do to maintain a healthy smile is pull a few strings.