As dentists, if there was one thing we would stress to our patients it’s the importance of flossing. Yes, you should brush twice a day for two minutes each time, but that’s not enough. Flossing is also important. Flossing can reach areas of the teeth and gums that brushing alone does not. It removes plaque buildup. It also helps prevent cavities and gum disease.
Unfortunately, only 4 in 10 Americans floss their teeth at least once a day, and 20 percent of Americans never floss at all, according to national polls. As dentists, we get it. We ask a lot already. And we know you mean to — but somehow flossing falls through the cracks. Here are some tips to help keep flossing a priority — how to follow through on flossing, impress your dentist, and have healthy teeth and gums like never before.
Floss in a Way that Meets Your Schedule
As your dentist, we understand how busy you are. Raising a family is hard work! So floss in a way that corresponds to your schedule. If you are always rushing out the door in the morning, floss at night. If you are more alert and attentive in the morning, floss after breakfast. Keep in mind that flossing seems to take longer than it really does. You can adequately floss all your teeth in about 2 to 3 minutes. When you compare that to how much you probably browse social media on your phone in the morning, it’s really nothing.
Set a Daily Reminder on Your Phone
As dentists, we hear all the excuses. But most likely the number one reason people don’t floss is they just forget. That’s why we recommend setting a daily reminder on your phone.
Keep Stashes of Floss Handy
Another way to remember to floss is to floss on the go. This can be done if you keep stashes of floss handy — in your purse, briefcase or computer bag, in the glove compartment of your car, in your coat pocket. You’ll have a subtle reminder to floss because you’ll see it often.
Have Your Own Office? Floss at Work!
If you are lucky enough to work in an office with a door that closes, you can always floss in your office. If you make it part of your work day, you can get it done because it becomes part of your regular routine.
Easy Does It — Avoid Aggressive Flossing
It’s important to rub floss gently up and down each side of the tooth — but you don’t need to dig in and cut your gums. Go easy. There will be some bleeding in the beginning as your gums get used to the floss, but you don’t need to cut your gums. Flossing shouldn’t hurt afterwards.
Floss in the Shower
Know that few minutes in the shower as you wait for your conditioner to set? This is actually a great time to floss! Keep a pack of floss in your shower stall and make a point of flossing. Standing in the water gently letting the spray run over you makes flossing a relaxing experience.
Find Your Preferred Dental Floss
There are a number of different dental flosses on the market. Some are designed for teeth that are closer together. Others are meant for teeth that are farther apart. You have silky floss or floss that hasn’t been treated with anything. There are also flavors of dental floss — yes, bacon flavored dental floss will change your life.
Try an App
Yep, there’s an app for that. You can use a dental app like Dental Coach to keep track of your flossing and set reminders. Just by keeping score, you’re more likely to follow through on your flossing game.
Your dentist knows this isn’t easy. It can be hard to remember to floss and follow through on a good flossing program. When you do floss, reward yourself. If you managed to floss every day this week, do something nice for yourself. Take a walk. Take some time to enjoy a nice book and favorite drink. Take yourself out for a treat. You’ve done well. Your dentist is thrilled. Treat yourself.