How important is flossing?
Most adults are good at finding time to brush their teeth each day. After all, brushing your teeth not only helps to prevent halitosis (bad breath) but also helps prevent tooth decay (cavities). But various studies have shown that nearly 30% of adults lie to their dentist about how often they floss. And many of those adults would rather do other less desirable tasks than floss their teeth. But why is that? And how important is flossing, anyway?
Of the 1,440 minutes in a day, flossing only requires 90 seconds—that’s less than two minutes, leaving 1,438 minutes in the day for other things. But for whatever reason, people just don’t seem to want to do it. One reason is likely that patients don’t understand how important flossing is.
Failure to Floss Leads To …
The truth is that flossing seriously lessens your risk of developing gum disease, or periodontitis. So imagine if you could do just one thing to help protect your overall health. Wouldn’t you do it?
After all, failure to floss works against all that preventive dentistry is intended to do: protect your teeth from tooth decay and gum disease. And, as you know now, failure to floss is associated with the following maladies.
- Bad breath
- Gum disease
- Tooth loss
How To Build the Habit
We understand that even the smallest of habits can be hard to stick to despite their health benefits. That’s why we put together a few tips to help you get in the practice and keep it going.
- Use a habit tracker app such as Habitica, StickK, Streaks, or Done.
- Find a habit buddy, such as your spouse, sibling, parent, or child.
- Make a sticker chart and try to accomplish a long streak (this is great for kids, but adults might enjoy this too).
- Give yourself a personal challenge your own way—add sticky notes to the bathroom mirror or use a process that has worked for you in the past—now challenge yourself to floss every day for a week, then a month, then for the year, and so on.
The biggest challenge with flossing is getting yourself in the habit. But once that habit sticks, it’ll feel like second nature, just like brushing your teeth. And trust us, your oral health and overall health will thank you.
How To Floss Correctly
Now that you know how important it is to develop a good daily flossing habit, let’s ensure you know how to floss correctly. After all, sometimes it is all in creating the right technique to make you feel more comfortable developing a positive habit.
- Use 18 to 24 inches of new dental floss each time you floss.
- Wind the floss around your two middle fingers, leaving just one or two inches of floss in between.
- Hold the floss taut by applying gentle pressure from your thumbs and index fingers.
- Gently glide the floss between two of your teeth, being sure not to pop the floss into your gums as this can cut the tissue.
- Curve the floss at the base of the tooth to form a C shape so that the floss can best enter the space between your gums and tooth. Then slide it up and down, making sure the floss rubs against both sides of each tooth.
- Repeat the above process between all of your teeth, using a clean section of floss each time. Don’t forget to get behind your last upper and lower molars.
If flossing with standard floss is challenging for you, consider a handheld flossing device such as a floss pick. Water flossers are also helpful in removing debris between teeth.
Don’t forget to visit your dentist every six months.
In addition to flossing and brushing your teeth daily, one of the best things you can do to protect your teeth and gums from tooth decay and gum disease, respectively, is visiting the dentist every six months. And while you may think that you’ve got brushing and flossing down, the truth is that only your dentist can remove plaque once it hardens into tartar. At your preventive dental checkups, your hygienist will perform a professional cleaning and your dentist will conduct an oral evaluation, ensuring your teeth are clean and in tip-top shape. And when you request an appointment with Dr. Staley at Staley Dental in Boise, Idaho, we’ll partner with you to keep those teeth and gums healthy for the long haul.
So what are you waiting for? Head to the dental aisle for some floss and schedule your next dental visit today.