What Do Flossing Your Teeth & Taking Out the Trash Have in Common?

What Do Flossing Your Teeth & Taking Out the Trash Have in Common?

You usually remember to take out the trash from your kitchen on a regular basis, right? Why? Because if you leave old food sitting around in the trashcan too long, it slowly rots and starts to smell bad. Not only will it smell bad, but it can also attract pests, such as flies and other unwelcome visitors, who are attracted by the food.

Well, as disgusting as it sounds, your mouth also has trash that builds up and needs to be taken out every day. Even if you brush your teeth, you still leave food behind in the periodontal (gum) pockets that surround each of your teeth. The food “trash” that gets stuck in these periodontal pockets can only be reached by flossing. When people ask me how often they should floss, I ask them, “How long do you want to leave the trash rotting there?” The longer you go without flossing, the more the food rots and serves as food for unwelcome bacteria that cause gum disease, bad breath, and other problems elsewhere in your body as the bacteria invade your bloodstream.

So, now you know why you should floss, but let’s answer a few final questions:

Who should floss?  Anyone with teeth!

What should I use to floss?  Any floss that is comfortable for you is fine. Waxed floss is easier to use for people whose teeth are tightly touching, and floss picks are easier for children and people who have problems with the two-handed flossing method.

When should I floss?  Ideally twice a day, but definitely before going to bed.

Where should I floss?  Anywhere! Have multiple rolls of floss and put them in your car, purse, desk, bathroom, next to your TV remote, next to your bed, and even in the shower.

How should I floss? Gently guide the floss up and down between each tooth and curve the floss around each tooth when you get to the gum line to get out as much “trash” as possible from the pocket around each tooth. Don’t forget the back of your last molars, too. Ask your dentist or oral hygienist to demonstrate correct flossing techniques at your next checkup or cleaning.

Flossing takes only minutes a day, but studies show that it can actually add years to your life! Daily flossing helps to prevent gum disease and cardiovascular disease, so remember to take out the trash every day…and floss for better health.

  • Al Manesh, Periodontist
    Mission Dental Implant Center