Regular flossing is an easy way to improve oral health and potentially avoid symptoms of gum disease, from bleeding gums and bad breath to inflammation and loose teeth.
And yet so many of us don’t do it. A recent survey found that only 40% of UK respondents claimed to have flossed at least once in the last three months. So why do we refuse to floss? Dr Milad Shadrooh – known to thousands of fans on YouTube as the Singing Dentist – has heard more excuses than he has filled teeth (well, nearly) including the following...
“I don’t have the time to floss!”
“The big one is time,” he says. “Patients tell me they just don’t have time to floss. I tell them it only takes a minute or two! Nobody’s life is that busy, especially when set against the benefits of flossing.”
“I don’t like it, it makes my gums bleed!”
“If time was the only excuse a lot more people would floss, but people come up with plenty of others,” Dr Shadrooh continues. “For example, some people say that they don’t like traditional floss because it frays and leaves bits behind, or that it makes their gums bleed or hurt.
“The simple truth is that if your gums bleed or hurt when you floss, it’s because of the plaque that has been allowed to build up. The answer isn’t to give up; it’s to keep going, work through it, and it should clear up in a couple of days. However, if the bleeding persists, it may mean the plaque has hardened and it will need a visit to the dentist, or a hygienist or therapist.”
“I might floss out one of my fillings!”
Dr Shadrooh has seen plenty of patients who were worried that flossing would hurt their gums, and even one or two who were concerned that it would dislodge a loose filling. “Again, this isn’t a reason to not floss. If flossing will bring out a filling, then it is likely it was on its way out already! Good luck with your next biscuit! See your dentist to get the filling fixed, and then try to make flossing a habit,” he says.
“It hard to do and it hurts!”
If flossing is difficult or painful, it might be because you aren’t doing it correctly. Dr Shadrooh recommends gently rocking the dental floss back and forth from the top down until it pushes through the contact point between two teeth (if there is one).
Then curve the floss against the side of one of the teeth and gently move it up and down before curving it around the base of each tooth and carefully cleaning just beneath the gum line. Don’t work the floss down any further than it naturally wants to go.
“It’s not difficult and I recommend doing it in front of the mirror to begin with as it takes a bit of dexterity to get it right, and a bit of practice.” says Dr Shadrooh. “Some people will use that as an excuse to give up, but perseverance is key!”
A very easy alternative is the AirFloss Pro, which is like an electric toothbrush in the way it cleans very thoroughly but with very little effort. The AirFloss Pro effectively undermines another excuse that Dr Shadrooh regularly hears: that patients simply fall out of the habit of flossing. The AirFloss Pro is so quick and easy to use that it soon becomes an integral part of any daily oral health regime.
“I don’t really need to floss”
There is one final excuse that Dr Shadrooh hears all too regularly. “People will often say that they don’t need to floss. They say they brush twice a day, see the dentist every year and only have a couple of fillings. So they think that flossing is just a waste of time.
“In those cases, I simply tell them to floss once and see what comes out. Most people who see what is left behind on the floss after using it for the first time in months or years quickly come round to the idea of regular flossing.”
The good thing is that it doesn’t take weeks or months to get your teeth back in tip top shape, even if you have never flossed before. Using the AirFloss Pro helps prevent cavities between teeth and gives you healthier gums in just two weeks (1). It’s also even less time-consuming than regular floss - the micro-droplet technology combines air and water or mouthwash cleaning your whole mouth in just 60 seconds and removing up to 99.9% of plaque from hard-to-reach places (2).
In fact, the AirFloss Pro is so quick, easy and effective that no excuse stands up. Or as Dr Shadrooh says: “It’s harder making up reasons not to floss than just doing it!
(1) When used in conjunction with a manual toothbrush and antimicrobial mouth rinse in patients with mild to moderate gingivitis.
(2) From the treated areas; in a lab study; actual in-mouth results may vary.