Seriously? There’s No Good Reason Not to Floss!

 dental floss flossing personal oral hygiene

Floss Your Teeth to Keep Them Healthy

What’s your reason for not flossing?

I go to the dentist twice a year for a checkup. I’ve always worried about my teeth—almost every tooth in my mouth has a filling. However, with all my concerns, I still don’t do what I’m supposed to do to try to keep my pearly whites healthy.  I don’t floss, and, yes, I do admit it to my dentist, Dr. Dan DeMarco, whose office is in Murrysville.

According to the American Dental Association, flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between teeth and under the gum line where toothbrush bristles can’t reach.  About three years ago I had a bad checkup—six cavities all in between my teeth.

Dr. Dan said these could have possibly been prevented had I been flossing regularly. Oops. I felt so dumb.

I’m not alone, though. According to the ADA, one in 10 people say they never floss. I think those other nine are lying. Everyone I’ve been asking said they only floss if they have to, like if something is in their teeth, or not at all.


Flossing takes too long

How much time do you think it takes? When the dental hygienist flosses my teeth at checkups, it takes maybe a minute. Before, I couldn’t take a minute to floss each day, which resulted in having to have three different hour-long appointments to fill my cavities.

It’s costs money

Floss is a dollar or less at drug stores like Rite Aid and Walgreens and can even be found at dollar stores, like It’s a Dollar.  I brush my teeth really well so I don’t have to floss.  Wrong. Brushing doesn’t get everything. Bacteria that can cause tooth decay still linger between teeth where toothbrush bristles can’t reach, according to the ADA.

It hurts

According to Dr. Dan, it hurts when you floss because you don’t floss as much as you should. Flossing once a day should be less painful after a week or so. Also, don’t floss too vigorously. You’re cleaning your teeth, not the side of a barge.

It’s awkward

Yes, sometimes flossing is like some kind of finger and wrist acrobatic spectacle and can be difficult if you can’t grasp things too well. There are tools that can help with flossing, like dental floss holders or interdental cleaning devices, which are small brushes that clean between teeth, available at drug stores and from your dentist.

I don’t know how

Ask your dentist, dental hygienist or follow these steps from the American Dental Hygienists’ Association:

  1. Wind 18 inches of floss around middle fingers of each hand. Pinch the floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a one to two inch length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.
  2. Keep a one- to two-inch length of floss taut between fingers. Use your index fingers to guide the floss between the contacts of the lower teeth.
  3. Gently guide the floss between the teeth by using a zigzag motion. Contour floss around the side of the tooth.
  4. Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Children also need to floss once daily, and the whole family should visit the dentist regularly.

I’m proud to say I’ve flossed every day for two weeks now—since my last check up where the dentist told me the pain I was having was because of food stuck in my teeth and not more cavities. Haven’t I learned? That was the wakeup call I needed.

From 4-23-2011


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