To floss or not to floss? Of course, you should floss — and not just because your dentist says so. Flossing reaches surfaces of your teeth a toothbrush cannot. It protects your gums from gum disease, cavities, and tartar buildup.
But how do you follow through on your flossing goals? As dentists, we know you try to floss. But be honest — sometimes (okay most of the time) you forget all about it.
Let’s talk about why you should floss — and how to follow through on a successful flossing plan. Here’s how to floss more often — rock your next dentist appointment guilt and cavity-free!
Why Your Dentist Wants You to Floss
Flossing regularly removes plaque and excess food particles from between your teeth, lowering your risk of cavities and gum disease. More importantly, flossing reaches areas between the teeth a toothbrush cannot. In fact, flossing does about 40% of the work of removing the sticky bacteria from your teeth that turn into plaque. Every single one of your teeth has 5 surfaces — 2 of which can only be accessed with floss.
Are you pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant? Flossing regularly significantly lowers your risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Remember, you’re flossing for two!
How to Follow Through on Flossing
We know great dental care is important to you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be reading this blog.
But somehow flossing always falls off your to-do list. As dentists, we understand. We’ve been there. The most common reason for skipping flossing is we forget or we think we’re too busy. We tell ourselves, “I’m too busy today, but I’ll be sure to do it tomorrow.” And then the days flow together — a week goes by and you haven’t flossed once.
Keep in mind that flossing really doesn’t take that long — about 2 minutes, tops! How long do you scroll social media on your phone in the morning as the coffee pot gurgles? We think flossing is a big chore when it’s actually a snap. Here’s how to make it a priority.
Floss to Fit Your Schedule
Dentists recommend we floss at least once a day. When you floss is up to you. Do what you feel is right, whatever works for you. In a rush to get out the door? Floss at night. Too sleepy at night and just want to go to bed? Floss after breakfast. Or floss midway throughout the day. There’s no rule that says you have to floss right after brushing.
If you’re always on the go, carry floss with you, in a jacket pocket or your purse. This way you can floss whenever you have a free moment. And if the floss is on hand, it will serve as a handy reminder.
Set an Alarm
Smartphones are a dentist’s best friend. They can serve as handy reminders for great dental care. Set an alarm on your phone to remind you to floss. Schedule it for the time that’s easiest for you. When the alarm goes off, drop what you’re doing and start flossing.
Use a Flossing App
You can use a habit tracking app to improve your flossing game. Dentists recommend Productivity, Strides: Habit Tracker, Habits, and Coach.me. You can also try Text2Floss. It’s not technically an app but a messaging surface that texts you messages reminding you to floss. You text back whether or not you have flossed, and the text tool measures your progress.
Measure your progress on your flossing goals throughout the week. At the end of the week, if you’ve flossed at least 5 times, give yourself a reward. Treat yourself to a chocolate bar or ice cream sundae. Give yourself an extra hour of free time to do whatever you want — read, listen to music, take a walk. Celebrate the fact that you’ve followed through on your goals.
Floss Your Way to a Cavity-Free Dentist Visit
We know you’ve got this. Once you’ve gotten into the habit, you’ll make flossing a regular part of your day without having to even think about it.
Your mouth will be cleaner. You’ll have fewer cavities next time you go to the dentist. In fact, at your next dental appointment, we’ll likely notice. The difference in oral hygiene between a flosser and a non-flosser is huge and immediately obvious. Welcome to the clean teeth club. Floss your way to a new you!