For the next 26 weeks I will be sharing a different way you can become healthier in your daily life. Some of these suggestions have to do with food or exercise, others have to do with lifestyle changes, but all of them are practical and relatively easy to execute. You may already be practicing some of these habits, but hopefully you’ll be inspired by at least one or two new ideas you can begin to implement.
Floss Your Teeth Daily
I hear it every time I go to the dentist: “Be sure to floss every day…” In the past couple years I’ve been far more consistent, but despite the fact my mom is a dental hygienist, forming the habit of flossing daily has been one of the most difficult habits for me to form.
Incredibly, Jonathan Levine, a dentist in New York City, says “flossing is actually more important [than brushing] from a medical standpoint.” Wow. Why is it I’d never even consider skipping brushing my teeth, yet I have to force myself to floss every morning? And flossing is actually MORE important than brushing? Hmm…
HOW FLOSSING WORKS
Apparently when plaque is not removed from in-between our teeth it turns into tartar, inflames the gums, and travels through the bloodstream, causing other health issues. When somebody skips flossing for years at a time, it eventually leads to periodontal disease. Chronic inflammation of the gums (periodontal disease) is linked with heart disease, diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Seems to me it’s a pretty high price to pay for not taking that extra 2 minutes every morning to floss my teeth.
BENEFITS OF FLOSSING DAILY
Boosts Immunity: As mentioned above, tartar travels through the bloodstream and causes other health issues. If you floss daily, it will protect your whole body from germs and infection!
Prevents Obesity: Studies have actually linked periodontal disease to higher body fat! “That means what you eat, and particularly what remains on your teeth after you eat, all contributes to weight gain.”1
Reduces Risk for Stroke: Flossing keeps your heart strong and healthy. If you suffer from gum disease, you are also more likely to develop a stroke.
Protects Unborn Babies: Your chances of delivering prematurely is linked to increased amounts of bacteria on your teeth and gums. Having trouble conceiving? Flossing daily may solve this issue. Remember, the bacteria from your mouth travels through the bloodstream, so if you’re pregnant it’s affecting your unborn child.
Helps Manage Blood Sugar: Those who floss daily have more manageable blood sugar levels than those who do not.
Soothes Arthritic Pain: Do you suffer from joint pain? If so, try flossing. If you have inflammation of the gums (because you don’t floss), that inflammation is likely to spread through your whole body and cause the pain in your joints.
Reduces Risk of Alzheimer’s: “Studies now link tooth decay and tooth loss before the age 35 to a heightened risk of Alzheimer’s disease.”2
PROPER FLOSSING TECHNIQUE
Pull out about 18 inches of floss, wrapping the ends around your fingertips for better control. Gently slide the floss between your teeth, being careful with your sensitive gums. Curve the floss around each tooth and rub it up and down to scrape away plaque. Avoid sawing motions with the floss — that can hurt your gums. If there is plaque visible when you remove the floss between each tooth, rinse it off. When you’re done, throw away the used floss. It can fray during use and collect bacteria. Rinse with mouthwash and brush your teeth.3
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO FLOSS?
Morning or evening?
Before you brush or after your brush your teeth?
The answer is yes. It doesn’t really matter WHEN you do it, as long as you do it.
At one point I had been flossing faithfully for many months, having developed a morning routine that motivated me to floss in order to check it off my to-do list. Then, my mom mentioned it was probably best to floss at night. This completely threw me for a loop because I no longer had the same motivation to check this activity off my to-do list when done right before bed. Hence, my habit was slowed to a near halt until I realized how foolish it was for me to switch to doing it at night when it had clearly been more effective to do it first thing in the morning.
Needless to say, floss when it is most convenient for you. The most important thing is that you do it. Every day.
So, have I convinced you to start flossing every day?