How to Start a Flossing Habit
Flossing is a habit that a lot of us just don’t do. According to the American Dental Association, nearly 60% of us don’t floss daily and 20% of us never floss. Even though flossing is one of the best ways to prevent tooth decay and gum disease, a lot of us can’t seem to make it a habit.
Dr. Wells encourages all his patients to floss at least once a day and not just when we feel something stuck in between our teeth.
A comedian, Mitch Hedberg, once compared flossing to quitting smoking: “People who smoke cigarettes, they say ‘Man, you don’t know how hard it is to quit smoking.’ Yes, I do — it’s as hard as it is to start flossing.”
It’s not hard to do, so we do so many of us fail to start flossing? Here are some tips to help you begin the habit that could save your teeth:
Buy Floss. This one is mandatory. This may be self-evident, but those who are not in the habit, may need to go to the store before they can start a flossing habit.
What type of Floss should I buy?
The type of floss doesn’t really matter. Whether waxed or unwaxed, flavored or unflavored, wide or regular sized, any type helps clean and remove plaque from your teeth. If you are worried about flossing correctly, try flossers- those little plastic-handled products that contain a piece of floss- these can be easier to maneuver than traditional floss. Choose one that you are most likely to use.
Have a Trigger. In order for a habit to become automatic, it needs a trigger. If you are already in the habit of brushing your teeth every day, make that your trigger. Put your floss right next to your toothbrush. Floss even before you brush. This will help make it a habit. Almost make it so that you have to floss before you are allowed to brush.
Make a Visual Reminder. The trigger should eventually trigger you to floss, but at first you might forget. Put a sticky note on the bathroom mirror or set a reminder on your phone. Physically put the floss next to your toothbrush so you can’t miss it.
Enjoy it. Flossing is sometimes put off because it seems unpleasant or boring. Try to focus on the positive aspects of flossing. Enjoy the fact that your teeth are getting cleaner, or that you could be preventing costly dental expenses, or that you finally got that piece of meat free from in between you back molars!
Reward Yourself. In order to make a good habit stick, sometimes we need some positive reinforcement. Your reward could be as simple as marking your calendar with a tiny x. And once enough Xs are strung together, you take yourself out for ice cream or a new outfit. Or every day that you floss, allow yourself some guilty pleasure- like watch an episode of reality television or give yourself more time to play Candy Crush. Whatever it is, find a little way to reward your efforts.
Once flossing becomes a habit, not only will you feel better, your teeth will actually be healthier! And your efforts will not be in vain- Dr. Wells will surely be able to tell the difference at your next checkup!
Remember that flossing is the number way to remove plaque from your teeth!