Do you floss your teeth regularly? Do you know what is the best way to floss teeth? If you do, this post is for you if you want to improve your flossing and do read till the end for a Bonus to improve your oral health. If you are not flossing regularly, this post is also for you, to persuade and guide you to add flossing to your oral routine easily.
As I research on the number of people who do floss, the percentage looks likely to be 40% or less. This means there is a huge majority of people who don’t floss. And I am one of them. So as I go about writing this post, I am going to convert myself from a “non flosser” to one who floss.
Floss Market share
The Floss Market is expected to grow by USD 1.03 Billion during the next few years. Waxed floss will lead the way as more and more of the population is being educated on the growing importance of dental care.
Why The Resistance To Flossing?
In a 2016 survey on “How many Americans floss their teeth“, those who never floss are likely to be
- Males (39%) vs females (27%).
- People 75 or older (45%) vs those aged 30 to 44 (31%).
- Low-income participants (49%) vs higher income brackets (28%).
Only 16% said they always floss once a day. 20% said they only floss when they need to. 8% simply never floss. There are many reasons why one is not flossing.
- Too Time Consuming
Flossing if done correctly, only requires up to 5 minutes. A first timer may need more time to learn what techniques work, but once the best method of flossing has been mastered, it should not take too long. Being lazy to take time to properly learn the correct method, will cost you a possible loss of tooth in the future.
- Too Painful, Scared of Bleeding
Users report that they find it too painful and are worried when they spot bleeding. Healthy gums do not bleed. Bleeding is a sign of early onset of gum disease and attention has to be given for increased prevention. The more you floss, the more you will remove the bacteria lurking between the gaps of the teeth, restoring a healthy environment to your teeth.
If you see bleeding, provided that you are not using too much force and doing flossing correctly, the more you should persist. The bleeding will go away in a week or so.
The reason why gums bleed when brushing or flossing is the body’s immune system at work. The body is sending more immune cells to fight the bacteria, so it appears as bleeding and swollen gums.
- Too Gross
The smell of rotting food mixed with bacteria is definitely not going to smell nice. Plus the thoughts of putting their fingers and jamming into their teeth. No wonder flossing is not a pleasant activity.
- Physically Demanding
Flossing is an art because you have to manipulate a tiny white floss into the gaps of every tooth in the upper and lower teeth. Not everybody has the physical motor skills to perfect it. While it is easy to insert the floss into the front teeth, the difficulty gets higher when you have to bring the floss to the back molars. This is where it can get physically challenging and people just simply give up.
New Survey Highlights “Unusual” Flossing Habits
An interesting thing I found out was how people resolve getting bits of food stuck between their teeth. I discovered in a survey (on 1005 adults) released by American Dental Association (ADA), of several unusual flossing habits. Instead of using floss, they have resorted to using
- Fingernails (61 %)
- Folder paper or cups (40%)
- Cutlery (21%)
- Safety Pins (14%)
- Strands of hair (7%)
Maybe I can add a “tongue” to it. Do you have other methods of getting food stuck between your teeth?
How To Overcome Resistance to Flossing
Understand The Benefits Of Flossing
Brushing alone can remove food debris on the surfaces and bacteria along the gum lines, but a toothbrush cannot reach the gaps between every tooth. Flossing is the act of removing food particles from between teeth, so that there is no bacteria that can nest and become plaque. Plaque over time mixes with more bacteria and become tartar which can only be removed by dental equipment. To kill and dislodge the bacteria in the first instance will save so many potential toothaches later.
Start slow. Watch videos on Youtube and practice in front of the mirror. Repeat and do not give up. One day, you will be able to say “I did it!” and then you will enjoy flossing every day.
Consequences of Non-Flossing
Gingivitis and Periodontal Diseases
Bacteria hiding in the crevices are perfect breeding grounds for gum diseases. Early-stage of gum disease, called Gingivitis has your gums looking swollen and red. This if not treated early, will see gums receding. When it graduates to become periodontal disease, the bacteria eat away at the roots and gums of the tooth. Your tooth has nothing to anchor to, and usually calls for extraction.
If a person who you talk to, has bad breath, you can be sure he does not have very good oral care habits. Ever wonder what causes bad breath? None other than bacteria mixing with his saliva. The more elements you add to your dental habits, the more you can definitely prevent bad breath from developing.
Illnesses And Other Diseases
As much as it sounds frightening, not having good oral hygiene can actually lead to many illnesses such as heart disease, joint inflammation and lung diseases.
How to Floss the Correct Way
This is a quick method to kick start your flossing journey.
1. Extend the floss from your fingertip to your elbow and tear it off from the floss box. That should be the recommended length of 18 inches needed for your flossing.
2. You can either twirl the majority of the floss around your right middle finger and the remainder over your left middle finger. Alternatively, you can tie both ends so it becomes a loop.
3. Divide the upper part of your teeth into 2 halves, left and right halves. Start by working on the upper front 2 incisors, and then moving on to the canine and then to the premolars and molars.
4. Let your floss slide down between the gaps of 2 teeth gently. Pull the floss up and down 5 times. Then curve the floss into a “C” shape and go up and down, reaching into the gum line without hurting. Repeat the “C” on the other side.
5. When you are done with one side, gently lift the floss up and out of the gap.
6. You can do a little investigation by smelling on the floss, to know the degree of bacteria you have dug out.
7. Using a new section of the floss, repeat to all gaps on the right then to the left sector of the upper teeth.
8. Do it also to the lower teeth.
You can watch this video on how to do flossing the correct way.
BONUS : A Mouth Map Download
Wouldn’t it be great if you can have a visual map of how your teeth looks like? For a visual guide of how your teeth looks like, download a copy of the MouthMap. You can then see how your teeth is positioned so that you get the best picture as you move from teeth to teeth.
I have attached a photo that described each tooth, like the incisors, canines, premolars and molars. Having a mouth map and following it in your flossing routine will go a great way for you to know the weak areas in your mouth and to address those issues.
Conclusion – Are you a flosser yet?
I hope you have understood the importance of flossing. If you have the above objections before, you should know that they do not outweigh the benefits of flossing. Get started today, do it gradually and build up to once daily. If you have issues, please seek your dentist for guidance.
Wait! What if I really do not like to floss? Fortunately, there are still some things you can do to keep up your oral hygiene if you don’t like to floss. Read the article “What if I don’t really like to floss?” to learn alternative ways to do so.
Let me know in the comments what were the most difficult “angles” to reach in your teeth, and how you overcome it. I would love to learn from you!