Do you floss? Or, like many people, do you always seem to find a reason not to?
A 2008 survey found that only 49% of Americans floss daily, and 10% never floss. That’s most unfortunate, dentists say, because flossing is even more important than brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss.
At City Dental we hear all sorts of excuses for not flossing. So, what are the excuses?
Excuse #1: Food doesn’t get caught between my teeth, so I don’t need to floss.
Flossing isn’t so much about removing food debris as it is about removing dental plaque, the complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces between cleanings. Plaque is what causes tooth decay, inflamed gums (gingivitis), periodontal disease, and eventually tooth loss.
Excuse #2: I don’t know how to floss.
Flossing isn’t easy. Low calls it “the most difficult personal grooming activity there is.” But practice makes perfect.
Here’s how the American Dental Association describes the process:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wrap most of it around the middle finger of one hand, the rest around the other middle finger.
- Grasp the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers, and use a gentle shoeshine motion to guide it between teeth.
- When the floss reaches the gum line, form a C shape to follow the contours of the tooth.
- Hold the floss firmly against the tooth, and move the floss gently up and down.
- Repeat with the other tooth, and then repeat the entire process with the rest of your teeth, “unspooling” fresh sections of floss as you go along.
Don’t forget to floss the backs of your last molars. “By far, most gum disease and most decay occurs in the back teeth,” Low says.
Excuse #3: I’m not coordinated enough to floss.
One option is to use floss holders. These disposable plastic Y-shaped devices (some equipped with a spool of floss) hold a span of floss between two prongs to allow one-handed use. More about flossing on our website...