In order to achieve and maintain good oral health, the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that everyone brush their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes. In addition to brushing, you should also floss at least once a day and visit your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and exams. Many people are great about brushing and consider that to be enough to keep their teeth clean, but did you know that when you don’t floss, you aren’t cleaning up to 35% of your teeth? Flossing is a cornerstone in the foundation of good oral health, yet many of us choose not to do it. Sure, there are a plethora of excuses, and dentists have heard them all, but according to a recent WebMD article, dentists can find a simple answer for just about all of them. Here are the most common excuses given and the simple solution that will have your smile in tip-top shape in no time.
Excuse: Food doesn’t get stuck in my teeth.
Flossing isn’t really meant to remove food from the teeth. Sure it can be an added bonus, but the main purpose of flossing is to eliminate plaque, the bacterial film that forms between teeth and along the gum line. Flossing actually prevents gum disease and tooth loss. Regardless of how often you brush, everyone gets plaque, and it can only be removed by flossing or a deep cleaning at the dentist.
Excuse: I don’t know how to floss.
Even if you’ve never flossed a day in your life, you can, and should, learn how. It is one of the most critical personal grooming activities out there. Check out these tips from the ADA on how to floss.
Excuse: I’m not coordinated enough and it’s too difficult.
If you find it difficult to reach the back of your mouth, there are several tools currently available to help you. Some of them include: plastic y-shaped flossers, small, round brushes, pointed, rubber tips, and wooden or plastic pics. Most of these are available at your local pharmacy and are very affordable.
Excuse: I don’t have time.
Pick a time of day that works best for you and commit to doing it. You can keep your floss with your toothbrush and toothpaste to remind you to make it part of your regular oral hygiene routine. It doesn’t take very much time, and you don’t have to do it in front of a mirror. You could keep a stash in your car and floss while sitting in traffic. The key is making it a part of your day, every day, during a time that will consistently work for you.
Excuse: Flossing hurts.
Flossing should not hurt or cause bleeding. If it does, it may be a sign of a bigger issue, like gingivitis or gum disease. If that’s the case, you’ve got an even bigger reason to floss. If you brush and floss daily, the bleeding and pain should subside in about 2 weeks. If it doesn’t, it’s time to make an appointment with your dentist.
Excuse: My teeth are too close together.
If you struggle to get traditional floss between your teeth, try waxed or glide floss for an easier fit. You can also try a threader or loop to find an easier entry point between your teeth. If you find that your floss is shredding, you may have a problem with your dental work or a cavity. Talk to your dentist about it and he can help remedy the problem.
There are many more excuses that people have come up with for why they don’t floss, but the bottom line is that it’s a critical piece in any good oral hygiene routine and shouldn’t ever be neglected. Remember, flossing greatly reduces the risk of gum disease and tooth loss. Would you rather take the few minutes each day to floss your teeth or go through the process of losing your natural teeth and potentially needing restorative dental treatments? The decision is simple. What’s your excuse?