Let’s face it; very few of us really enjoy flossing. It’s one of those things that we know we should do, but never really feel like actually doing. It’s a tad bit time consuming and tedious, and when we have had a long day and just want to get some shut-eye, we convince ourselves that we can skip the floss this once, just this once. Do we let our kids skip the all-important step of flossing? Probably not. We all have read in a parenting magazine or heard our dentist plea for us to instill good dental hygiene habits into our children from an early age. Why then do we ignore those recommendations for ourselves?
In 2008, a survey found that 10% of people never floss, and only 49% of Americans floss on a regular basis. We like to make excuses for why we don’t floss, but the truth of the matter is that flossing is more important than brushing when it comes to preventing periodontal (gum) disease and tooth loss. In fact, if you had to choose between a toothbrush and floss, floss would be the better choice for the overall health of your teeth and gums.
The purpose of flossing isn’t really to remove food debris like most people think. It is done to remove dental plaque, a complex bacterial ecosystem that forms on tooth surfaces over time. Plaque is what causes tooth decay (cavities), inflamed gums (gingivitis), gum disease, and eventually tooth loss. Brushing will remove a lot of the plaque from teeth, but flossing or using an alternate cleaning tool is the only effective way to remove plaque between our pearly whites.
So, the next time you think about skipping the floss, imagine that bacteria sitting there, eating away at your chompers while you get your extra few minutes of sleep. And think of the expense (and pain) involved in the dental work needed to repair the problems that could all be prevented by those few minutes spent flossing. Don’t wait until an hour before your next dental cleaning to floss between your teeth. Make it a habit today, and every day, and avoid the dreaded “bad news” part of your trip to the dentist.