Is flossing really that good?

How is that flossing is always emphasized by dentists and yet not practiced widely enough? The thing is, it really works. The return on investment on this simple habit is huge and it’s indeeed a great habit to have. 

Yet, flossing daily is also just an extra task to do. Especially if a habit is not formed, it can be annoying and easy-to-skip. It’s so effective at keeping the teeth healthy, that if people would listen to their dentists, the whole industry would shrink.

Arguably, flossing is even more effective than brushing. Or let’s just say equally important. Why?

When you brush your teeth, you clean many surfaces that are flat and normally almost clean anyway. The tongue, the muscle movements of the lips, chewing, and saliva have cleaning effects. These surfaces are also considered self-cleaning surfaces.

Not all surfaces are in this category. The areas where teeth touch each other, around and under the gum-line, between the teeth, are hard-to-reach. Even by using an electric toothbrush, which is in itself a huge improvement. Yet food particles easily infiltrate those areas, inducing inflammation or cavities.

surfaces reached by dental floss

Flossing with proper technique, when the string is tightly controlled, one can perfectly clean every area. There are many good how-to videos online. Here is one example that seems informative.
A good trick to convince yourself about the value of it is to actually check the floss after using it.
After brushing your teeth thoroughly, go around with the floss. Just observe closely what’s stuck to the floss.

Also, smelling it is a good way to understand that after brushing, there is still plaque left around. Let’s be honest, you probably don’t really want those to stay there overnight.
Once you decide that it’s worth doing, a sticky note on the bathroom mirror for a few weeks may be helpful to learn the new habit.
Studies showed that with brushing only, you can reach a maximum of 80% of teeth surfaces, the remaining 20% stays uncleaned.

Thanks to the increase of basic oral hygiene, flat surface cavities decreased. Although some recent studies seem to show that caries prevalence is rising again in certain risk groups.
The most common type of decay nowadays is the one that’s preventable by flossing. Those usually start from in between teeth, on the contact surfaces.
If you are new to flossing, give it a two-week trial and you may stop if you want. 14+ iterations are about to be enough to form a new habit. Let yourself notice the difference and find the easiest ways to do it.
Once you had some practice, your muscles and fingers will find your unique and fast ways to floss.

It’s always worth to use a mirror to check the form and make sure you are not injuring yourself. Then it takes just 1-2 minutes daily, and you will appreciate the amazing benefits long term.

Have fun flossing daily, your teeth will appreciate, for sure.

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