According to a highly unscientific poll, we’re all over the place as far as flossing goes – or at least readers of Glamour who like to take online surveys are. Asked how often they floss, 24% say everyday, another 24% say a couple times a week, 17% say a few times a month, 16% say “only for a while after each dental visit, after he guilts me into it” and 20% say “basically never.”
Yes, we realize that adds up to 101%, but we’re just reporting what the site says. And we warned you that it’s unscientific. However, those results do jibe with what we’ve seen, heard and learned over years of practicing dentistry.
Flossing seems to be a much harder habit to instill than brushing, even though it can make more of a diffrence to dental health than just brushing . In fact, the same Glamour blog includes a terrific anecdote about the power of flossing to fight off a cavity:
Three months ago I thought cracked a molar after chomping down on a chicken bone in some very tasty Moroccan stew. I didn’t have a dentist so I went to one who came highly recommended by a friend. He fixed what turned out to be mere chip and talked me into a routine cleaning. (Shout out to the NYC’s Dr. Gause! I know it’s hard to believe, but that’s really his name.) I had to sit for ten million years getting every tooth in my mouth x-rayed only to hear, “Well, you’re 60% on your way to having a serious cavity.”
To my surprise, he didn’t want to drill. He said I could heal it on my own with a twice daily routine of rinsing, flossing, brushing, and rinsing again (with Listerine). I’ve never been much of a flosser. To be honest, my mouth was lucky if it saw thread once a week. But I had been challenged – and Dr. Gause said he believed in me. And getting used to flossing twice a day (not to mention all that rinsing) wasn’t as tough as I thought it would be. The result: My new healthy habit totally paid off! I went back for a check up and the silly little cavity-to-be is gone. Hooray!
But even upon hearing stories like this one – or the hard facts about what happens when we don’t floss (hint: you increase your risk of periodontal disease and tooth loss) – we still fall back on all kinds of excuses for avoiding it. Number one? No time (even though it only takes a couple minutes daily), followed fast by complaints about the floss itself: it shreds, it hurts my fingers, it gets stuck….
Here’s an idea: Try some different floss.
We recommend the one we give to our clients at their regular dental visits: Glide Dental Tape. Being a wide, smooth tape rather than thin, thread-like floss, it’s more comfortable to wrap around your fingers and slides along the sides of your teeth much easier. It doesn’t get caught or shred, and if you have puffy, inflamed gums, you’ll find it’s much gentler against those tissues, not aggravating them as standard floss can. (Regular flossing, of course, can help reverse that inflamation.)
Give it a try and see if it makes flossing feel a little easier or better for you.
H/T Stephanie for all outbound links