If find yourself dreading the idea of flossing at night, you’re not alone. A recent survey found that less than 50 percent of all Americans floss daily, and that 10 percent never floss at all. That’s a startling number when you consider how important flossing is to the long-term health of your teeth and gums. In fact, many dentists even claim that flossing daily is more important than brushing when it comes to preventing tooth loss and gum disease.
So if flossing is so important, why do millions of people forgo the habit at the detriment to their teeth’s health? Here are some of the most common excuses dentists hear about why the only time the majority their patients floss is an hour before their next dental appointment.
Excuse: I Don’t Floss Because Food Never gets Stuck Between my Teeth.
Even if you were somehow able to actually avoid ever getting food stuck between your teeth (a pretty nifty trick that should entitle you to at least a special t-shirt), flossing isn’t really about removing lingering food particles as it is about removing dental plaque, a complex form of bacteria that can damage the health of your teeth’s enamel. Plaque causes tooth decay, which can lead to gum disease, and eventually tooth lose. The only way to remove harmful plaque from teeth in areas your brush can’t is by flossing.
Excuse: I Don’t Know How to Floss.
Correctly flossing ranks as one of the most difficult personal grooming habits out there, so don’t feel discouraged if you have trouble mastering the activity right away. To provide you with a better feel for how to floss, here’s how the American Dental Association recommends the process:
- Begin with 18 inches of floss. Wrap the majority of floss around the middle finger of your off hand (for someone right handed that would be his left hand), and the rest around the other middle finger.
- Pull the floss tightly, and use a gentle back-and-forth motion to slip the floss between your teeth.
- When the floss hits your gum line, bend the floss into a U shape that follows the contour of a tooth.
- Press the floss against the tooth firmly, and move the floss up and down in a gentle motion.
- Repeat the process as you move along between teeth, and make sure to unwrap fresh sections of floss from your middle fingers as you move along.
Don’t forget to pay special attention to the back molars, as the majority of tooth decay and gum disease begins with these teeth.
Excuse: I Don’t Have the Coordination to Floss.
For individuals who suffer from dexterity issues such as arthritis, hand pain, or paralysis, there are several options on the market that will allow you to floss even with limited coordination. Disposable floss picks allow you to floss using just one hand, and dental stimulators such as Soft-Picks and Stim-U-Dents act like disposable toothpicks.
Excuse: I Don’t Have the Time.
While thoroughly flossing does take anywhere from three to five minutes, spending as little as 60 seconds flossing a night can still have a tremendous impact on the health of your teeth. If you make the time to address your personal appearance by brushing your hair, shaving, or by applying deodorant, you can find the time to floss. After all tooth loss is a lot more noticeable than that unruly cowlick you can never get to lie down.
To keep flossing in your thoughts, try leaving out floss where you can see it when readying for bed or place it next to your toothbrush. You can even carry floss with you and use flossing as an excuse to take a break at work or as something to do while stuck in traffic.
Excuse: It Hurts to Floss
It flossing along the gum line causes pain or bleeding, you probably already have gum disease. Instead of stopping, you should actually start flossing more, as the activity can greatly benefit the health of your gums.