Be honest: Do you floss every day? If the answer is no, you’re surprisingly not alone. Only 40% of adults actually take this extra daily step in their oral hygiene routine. In fact, 20% of adults never even floss at all. And those are just the ones who admit it!
Dental hygienists can tell when you’re not being truthful about oral habits, and they don’t need a crystal ball to figure it out. The truth is in your mouth. Regular flossing combined with brushing is necessary to remove plaque and food between your teeth. When plaque and bacteria builds up, it can result in unwanted complications. Not only can it cause periodontal disease like receding gums, it can lead to inflammation and subsequent deterioration of surrounding gums. Research has even shown this to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease and diabetic complications.
Recent studies aside, pairing the practice of teeth brushing with flossing is a win-win. It’s inexpensive, easy to do, and there are no major downsides to doing it. If nothing else, do it for your breath. Leftovers are great, but your teeth aren’t a good place to store them.
When you do floss, proper technique is key. Avoid sawing back and forth between teeth, as you’ll risk damaging delicate gum tissue without removing any plaque. Start with a long string of floss wrapped around your fingers, and hold on with your thumb and forefingers. Gently guide the floss between your teeth. Never “snap” the floss into place. When you reach the gum line, make a “C” shape against one tooth and slide the floss up and down. Repeat this method for the rest of your mouth, and don’t forget the backside of that last tooth!
It may be a little inconvenient, but maintaining excellent oral health can save you a lot of stress and money down the road. Prevention is always better than finding a cure, and that’s true for gum disease too. Start flossing—and make your dentist proud.