My name is Ina and I floss properly every day. It didn’t used to be that way.
For years, even though I was married to a dentist, I thought of flossing more like a toothpick on a long string. You know, the thing you use only when a raspberry seed gets stuck between your teeth, and not something essential to oral health. Sure my gums bled, whenever I actually did floss, and sure I “knew” that was bad, but I didn’t really get how much I would love flossing once I got into to the actual habit of doing it daily.
Once I became a converted flosser, I focused solely on whether I flossed, and never thought about how I flossed. Hey, I was flossing! I could look my beloved hygienist in the eye and say, yes, I flossed every day. But truth be told, it’s taken me years to get the actual technique down pat.
Now, I am an evangelist for proper flossing. When talking with friends, I can smell the difference in the sweet breath of my flossing friends, and the not so sweet scent of those who aren’t yet converted. In the hopes of bringing into the fold those of you who still aren’t in the habit, here’s what made the difference for me.
1. “Honey” not fear. Unless you live on the planet Xenon, you know you should floss and that not doing so is bad for your gums, your circulatory system, and your social life. But what ultimately converted me was just how deliciously wonderful my mouth feels after flossing. Like my Mom said: “You catch more flies with honey!” so hygienists: tell patients how good flossing everyday feels.
2. Be sure you’re using enough floss. I used to nag my husband about using too much floss. Not anymore! I now understand that you’ve got to have a long enough string of floss to give each tooth its own “piece” of floss real estate. Otherwise, you’re just relocating the “schmutz”, better known as bacteria, from one tooth to another.
3. It’s good that habits are hard to break. In the old days, I never had a flossing routine. Now, it’s every night, without fail, after I brush. My son is a shower flosser. Whatever it takes!
4. Search and destroy all plaque. It’s not enough to just slide floss between your teeth, you’ve got to floss all of the surfaces. Which means you’ve got to lift the floss up and down a couple of times on each surface to be sure you’ve dislodged that pesky plaque from all its hiding places.
5. Every tooth counts, even the ones in the way back. With flossing, it’s easy to play favorites, like only flossing the ones where food gets stuck. But as my husband has been known to say: “Only take care of the teeth you want to keep.”
May the floss be with you!
Ina Pockrass is the co-founder of the Eco-Dentistry Association. You can learn more about her here.