Flossing is Your Friend

According to Samuel B. Low, DDS, past president of the American Academy of Periodontology, flossing is “the most difficult personal grooming activity there is.” This is why many people make excuses to avoid flossing. However, it's one of the most important habits to incorporate into your daily routine. Here are easy ways to address all of your excuses and start flossing for good.

Excuse #1: I'm Not Good at Flossing

The American Dental Association provides these tips for flossing:

  • 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.

Excuse #2: Flossing Feels Awkward

If you have a hard time with the hand-mouth coordination that flossing requires, consider using one of these other tools:

  • plastic, disposable, floss picks that allow for extra reach
  • water piks/water irrigation tools
  • small, round brushes
  • rubber picks with bristles

Excuse #3: Flossing is a Pain

Walrus FlossFlossing can be a pain in the neck because it's somewhat time-consuming and awkward. If it literally causes you pain, that's a sign that you haven't been doing it enough. When you first start flossing again, your gums might bleed or hurt initially. However, if you brush and floss daily, the bleeding and pain should stop in less than 2 weeks. If it doesn't go away, make sure to see your dentist, in case there are larger problems causing those symptoms.

Flossing is even more important than brushing your teeth and by avoiding it, you are putting yourself at risk for serious gum disease and tooth loss. It's easy to find reasons to avoid flossing. Whatever your excuse is, nip it in the bud and find a way to work flossing into your daily routine. Your gums will thank you for it.

Photo Credits: Dental Corporation of America, Cowtown Prints and Oral B

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