For anyone who has tried to floss and has given up, I cannot stress enough how frustrating and difficult flossing can be if you’re not used to the habit.
The whole point of flossing is to remove the gunk and food between your teeth. Flossing means you won’t get holes in between your teeth. Getting holes in between your teeth is worse than getting holes on the chewing surfaces of your teeth because the holes tend to be big by the time they get diagnosed by your dentist.
The habit of flossing is like getting into the habit of running or going to gym, or reading books for those less physically-inclined. If you weren’t brought up with it, it’s a hard habit to get into. It takes months and months until you start vaguely enjoying it and truly appreciating the mental health benefits that running (or reading) gives you. Once you’re used to it, you start to feel grubby and not yourself if you miss a session. If you keep to flossing, then at the end of the day, you’re really doing yourself a favour. I personally love to floss because I know how to floss properly. It’s cheap and once you get it right, your teeth feel dirty if you skip a session. Eventually you will join the minority of us who actually floss and it does become an obsession, or as I like to call it, a flossession.
Interesting fact about flossing – if you do it everyday, you increase your life by at least 1 year. How? Flossing reduces inflammation in the gum (not just preventing cavities in between your teeth) and inflammation in your entire body. Inflammation in the body leads to most of the major diseases. E.g. heart disease = inflammation around the heart, diabetes = inflammation worsens blood glucose levels, arthritis = inflammation around the joints. So less inflammation in the mouth means less inflammation in the body and living longer.
Do not underestimate the difficulty of flossing.
The Don’t (the most common way people floss)
- Pushing your floss right down in the middle of your teeth, hitting the triangular tip of the gums. Ouch!
- Each tooth has 2 sides to it – the left and the right side. Take a second to picture this.
- Push the floss down along one side of the tooth, take the floss out. Then push the floss down along the other side of the tooth, and take the floss out.
- Instead of working on each tooth, 2 sides at a time, I want you to use the technique I use. Floss per side rather than per tooth. Floss the left side of each tooth, starting from the last tooth and working your way towards the front. Now that you have flossed the back side of each tooth, start again from the last tooth and work your way forwards, only this time you’re flossing the other side of each tooth, the right side.
Tada! You have graduated from flosschool.
This is my preferred floss. It has good grip.
I am not a fan of the Satin type (picture below). I find it too slippery and doesn’t have enough grip to remove the plaque. I used this brand for a week once and noticed my gums became inflamed and bleeding. When I switched back to my regular floss, my gums stopped bleeding in 2 days.
If mint flavour bores you, you may want to try cupcake or bacon flavour… Oh the irony!
Floss every night. Every night. Every night. Yep every night in case you missed that. Do it as the last thing you do before you go to bed (after brushing).
There are several products on the market that act as a substitute to floss (remember the point of flossing it to remove the gunk between your teeth).
“Like floss, only easier”
These are less fiddly and requires less manual dexterity. Use it every night. Slide it in and out. Wash it with soap and water, or mouthwash. Use it till it breaks. I personally don’t like to use these because I have tight contacts in between my teeth. However this is good for people with wide gaps between their teeth, braces, wire bonded retainer on the back of the teeth (for people who have had braces and now a wire retainer), and to clean around bridges and implants. Also suitable for people with poor manual dexterity.