Fact: Flossing teeth is a drag. It's impossible to get the length of dental floss you need just right. Successfully getting it between your teeth takes forever, and you have to slobber all over yourself in order to do it. The food particles never actually stay on the floss, which always cuts off the circulation in your fingers. Oh yeah, and it makes your gums bleed. Fun times.
But don't fret—you're not alone in your disdain for flossing teeth. According to a recent survey from the American Academy of Periodontology, almost one third of Americans lie to their dentist about their flossing habits (or rather, lack thereof). In fact, over one third would rather do things like clean a toilet, sit in traffic, or listen to a screaming kid on an airplane than floss.
So what's with our sense of dread toward flossing teeth? It probably has to do with the whole instant gratification thing. Even though flossing only takes a couple of minutes, it can feel like an eternity. Unlike brushing, which leaves you with insta-minty proof of labor, flossing leaves you with... well, nothing. On the surface, your chompers look exactly the same—but over time, when your breath clears the room and your teeth crumble, you're going to wish you put yourself through the initial torture.
“There’s clearly more work to be done when it comes to educating Americans about the importance of oral hygiene. There are more than 500 bacterial species that can be found in plaque, and brushing alone does not remove the bacteria that live below the gum line,” AAP President Joan Otomo-Corgel, DDS, MPH, said in a statement. And that bacteria can lead to gum disease, which has also been linked other chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, even cancer.
On top of which, the state of your oral health can seriously mess with your personal life: According to the survey, three in five U.S. adults who have a partner say their partner's oral health has an effect on their intimacy, while over one third of Americans say a smile is the first thing they notice when meeting someone they're attracted to.
If you need to step up your floss game, all is not lost. “The good news about periodontal disease is, with proper and timely care, it’s treatable and often reversible. If a person is at risk for periodontal disease, a periodontist has the training and expertise to determine the best course of treatment," Otomo-Corgel said.
The AAP is offering people the chance to learn more about how to protect their teeth and hook themselves up with a nearby dentist through its Love The Gums You're With public health campaign. It's currently recommended we brush twice a day and floss once daily—and don't bother lying to your dentist, either. Dentists know more about your oral health shenanigans than you do.
How do you feel about flossing teeth?
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Flossing teeth image via Shutterstock