There are all kinds of little things that we should be doing on a regular basis which provide long-lasting benefits to our health. Unfortunately, it’s extremely easy to neglect these little things, and when the moment of reckoning comes where it’s time to see your doctor, it’s even easier to just lie about it to save yourself from some embarrassment.
Unfortunately, there are some situations where this doesn’t fly, and flossing is one of them. You may tell your dentist that yes, you do in fact floss every day, but your bleeding gums will betray your deception far more effectively than a lie detector ever could. Indeed, any dentist worth their salt can easily identify when someone hasn’t been keeping up with their flossing habits, and unfortunately, it’s far too common for people to neglect this simple task.
We get it. We’re not judging. Even simple, easy tasks can seem like a chore if they take a couple minutes out of your day. It’s also not as easy to “feel” the effects of flossing as it is with brushing. However, that’s no excuse to not do it, and we’re here to help. There are a lot of things you can do to turn flossing into a habit. Here are some of them:
USE FLOSS PICKS
There are two ways you can floss: the traditional way, where you pull a long string of floss between your teeth, and using a floss pick. Even if you’ve never seen a floss pick before, you’ve probably seen them — they’re those little plastic disposable things that have a small piece of floss strung tight and ready to go.
Floss picks are a boon to a lot of people who find flossing to be a chore. It can be hard nailing the art of traditional flossing, especially when you’re trying to get your back teeth. Floss picks make it easy to get in between every single tooth, and in a way that’s usually faster than the normal method.
Floss picks are also nice because they typically have a pointy tip on the bottom that can be used like a toothpick, allowing you to clean those hard-to-reach spots. Floss picks are also easy to keep in several areas of the home. Overall, they’re more or less just as effective as string floss, but far easier and more convenient. If you want to start flossing more, getting a few bags of these is a good first step!
KEEP FLOSS EVERYWHERE
Whether you prefer string floss or floss picks, the principle here is the same — if you store floss all over the place, you’ll find plenty of opportunities throughout the day to do the deed. Unlike brushing, flossing doesn’t require water or a sink. It’s an exceedingly simple and easy activity you can do on the fly, and if you’re using picks, you can even do it one-handed.
While it’s good practice to floss before or after brushing your teeth, that doesn’t mean you can’t do it separately. Once you start reminding yourself to just do it real quick when you see floss lying around, it could quickly turn into a habit. Here are some good places to keep some floss:
- In Your Shower: Flossing is easy when you’re in the shower, and this allows it to be cleanly integrated into your morning or evening routine (or both) without you needing to take extra time out of your day. This is also true for brushing.
- In the Car: String floss isn’t really viable on the road, but if you keep some floss picks lying around, there’s no reason to not use one of your hands for some quick flossing. If you’d rather keep two hands on the wheel, you can still floss real quick when you depart from or arrive at your destination.
- At Your Work Desk: The common medical consensus is that we should frequently take small breaks if we work a sedentary desk job. The body needs to move around, and sometimes we need to peel our eyes away from a screen. Why not use this time to floss?
- In Your Bag or Purse: Keeping floss in your purse is a no-brainer; you already have a bunch of other stuff in there, and it’s not like floss is particularly heavy or clunky. For the men out there who don’t keep a purse on them, there are still likely things that you carry around. A laptop bag is a good example. It’s no purse, but it can still easily hold some floss or plastic picks.
TRY A WATER PICK
Ever heard of a water pick? If not, we’re about to blow your mind, because these things are pretty cool. Water picks are little devices that essentially allow you to floss… with water. In a nutshell, you put it near your gums, and it shoots highly pressurized water, which gets deep into the crevasses of your pearly whites, achieving a similar effect to floss.
Water picks and floss don’t achieve identical results — and there’s not quite a definitive conclusion on which one is better. However, it’s indisputable that water picks are effective, so it’s a far better option than doing nothing. As dental experts, we endorse water picks to anyone who struggles with flossing.
Water picks aren’t versatile in the way that traditional floss is; like brushing, it requires some water and a sink, so it’s probably something you’ll be doing in the morning and evening instead of in your car. But it’s definitely easier than flossing, and it’s also kind of a cool, weird sensation that’s far more appealing than pulling a string in and out of your mouth.
USE THE WONDERS OF TECHNOLOGY
Some people don’t floss because they’re lazy, and some neglect it simply out of forgetfulness. It’s oddly easy to forget that flossing is even a thing that exists when it’s not a daily habit — even if your dentist is always hounding you about it. If you fall into that camp, you might consider using smart technology to remind you.
Smartphone assistants can easily store reminders for every little thing, and they can be set to be a recurring daily event. Have your phone tell you “Hey dummy, it’s time to floss” at 10:00 every night, and after a while, it may compel you to change your ways.
It’s not surprising if you’ve never heard the term “habit-chunking” before, but if you haven’t, we’re about to blow your mind yet again. Habit-chunking is basically the idea of “attaching” one habit to another that you already have locked down. Instead of having to create an entirely new habit, you just add on to one you’ve already mastered.
Brushing your teeth is an obvious and relevant example. You may struggle to floss, but if you’ve mastered the art of two teeth-brushing sessions a day, why not just stack flossing on top of that? But since that’s an easy one, we’ll use a few more examples.
We’ve already listed some of them — if you’ve made a habit of getting up occasionally at work, flossing is just something you can just do at the same time. If you have a daily ritual of watching Youtube videos or browsing your phone, just pick up a floss stick and multitask. You can basically pick any kind of menial activity that’s already a staple of your daily routine, and “chunk” flossing into it. This is a proven method of building new productive habits, so consider giving it a try!
THINK ABOUT WHAT YOUR DENTIST WOULD SAY
Finally, if nothing else, just remember the sheer disappointment you feel when you go into the dentist, and you say yet again that you haven’t really been flossing, as the dentist examines your bleeding gums.
Of course, at our family dentistry, we’re not here to shame people, and we’re not going to make you feel bad. But that doesn’t mean that we’ll stop recommending flossing, because it really is just that important to gum and teeth health.
Prince Williams Family Dental is located in Dumfries and we serve everyone in the nearby regions, such as Woodbridge. If you happen to be nearby, we encourage you to stop by today for a checkup of your dental health. While it doesn’t seem like much on a day-to-day basis, you can bet that neglecting daily habits will add up in the long-term. We want to prevent that from happening, and you can bet you’ll walk out of our office smiling. Getting started is easy — just contact us today to book an appointment!