I've always had trouble flossing

Okay, we all know we're supposed to floss. I don't really know how many people out there actually do, but I'm guessing a lot of people are like me. Whenever I go to the dentist and the hygienist cleans my teeth she says, you haven't been flossing, have you? And I say, No, but I'll do better from now on, I promise. That is typically the end of the conversation. I say I'll floss, and for a few days, or even weeks after the appointment, I do. Eventually, I get lazy, and stop flossing until my next appointment.

Until now…

I had my semi-annual dental appointment a couple of weeks ago and it was going pretty much like normal until…

Do you floss?
You know, the thing is, I always floss for the first little bit after my last dental appointment, but then I slack off.
Oh really? Most people slack off except for the little bit before their appointment.
Yeah, but even I slack off sometimes, and I know the consequences. I think the problem is we just pester people about flossing, but we don't explain why it's important
Oh yeah? Why's that
Well, brushing is good for breaking up the food particles in your mouth and spreading the bacteria around. We all have bacteria, they're just part of our natural flora. However, when the bacteria are allowed to colonize, they form plaque.
I see…
Once plaque forms, you can't break it up by brushing, it's just too strong. That's why we have to scrape it off when you come here. However, when bacteria colonize, they tend to do it below the gumline. Brushing won't get them, but if you floss, you can prevent the plaque from forming. Listerine is good too. Flossing is really the best way to prevent gum disease.
I never knew that
Yeah, it's really the fault of us dental professionals not taking the time to explain it.
So, now I'm motivated. I've got a real reason to floss, and I'm not going to slack off.

C-Dawg covered flossing procedure very well in his writeup, so how about some fun facts instead.

Floss Facts

  • The area below the gumline is called the sulcus.
  • People with periodontal disease are 1.5-2 times as likely to suffer a fatal heart attack and 3 times as likely to suffer a stroke.
  • New studies show that diabetic patients with severe periodontitis have difficulty maintaining normal blood sugar levels.
  • Infected oral tissues with pneumonia bacteria can be inhaled into the lungs where immune defenses fail to wipe them out.
  • Mothers of prematurely born babies were 7 times more likely to have advanced periodontal disease than mothers whose babies were normal weight at birth.
  • Individuals with artificial joints and heart valves are at an increased risk of suffering a serious infection when periodontal bacteria enter the bloodstream.


  • http://www.floss.com/flossing.htm
  • http://www.floss.com/hygiene.htm