We’ve all been there: in the dentist’s chair when we get the question, “have you been flossing?”. You now have to make a decision; do you stretch the truth and count the one time you remembered to floss four months ago to avoid shame, or just look the hygienist straight in the eye and lie through your (unflossed) teeth? Most of us have a pretty good handle on brushing our teeth, but flossing it a whole different story. It really doesn’t require that much more effort, but for some reason that extra step turns into a bridge too far. It may be that people don’t like it because it hurts their gums, they don’t see the immediate benefit, or that they simply forget. Whatever the reasons you have to not floss, you should start. Here are 3 great reasons to floss:
- Flossing keeps your teeth in your mouth. It sounds like a scare tactic from mothers everywhere, but it’s true. Flossing cleans the bacteria hidden down between the teeth, where brushing can’t reach. Simply put, plaque leads to tartar, tartar leads to gum disease, gum disease leads to periodontal disease, and periodontal disease leads to tooth loss. Flossing stops this process in the first stage, when it’s plaque. The floss can break up the plaque, allowing your toothbrush to brush it away.
- Flossing combats bad breath. What’s better for your breath, little bits of food stuck in your teeth all day, or clean teeth? This one is a no-brainer. The longer errant food particles get to hang out stuck between your teeth, the worse your halitosis gets. Brushing helps, but again, to get 100%, flossing is required.
- Save money. This may very well be the only one you care about. Flossing is inherently a preventative measure. It helps prevent disease of your teeth and gums in the future. Left untreated, those diseases can turn into very costly (and unpleasant) procedures such as root canals, or worse. Flossing can go a long way to keeping these from being necessary. Therefore, flossing now can save a ton of money down the road.
Next time you’re in the dentist chair, don’t hang your head in shame. Floss, and then you can look your dentist right the eye and tell them you flossed, and are proud of it.
Photo by Stan Zurek (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons