Would you eat off of a 40% dirty plate?
(I’m guessing you said no.)Brushing your teeth only reaches about 60% of each tooth, leaving 40% of each tooth unclean.
When you don’t floss, the food left between your teeth provides a buffet of treats for the bacteria in your mouth. Why does this matter? Because
6 billion bacteria are living in your mouth, and they are always hungry! ALWAYS.
A quick introduction to bacteria –
(in our best Alex Trebek voice…)Bacteria’s favorite foods include carbs – like bread, pasta, cereal, and generally anything sweet or sticky. Bacteria aren’t fans of fruits or vegetables because your saliva breaks them down before the bacteria can get there. Bacteria’s favorite activities include snacking on the food you kindly leave in-between your teeth, reproducing, creating a home (plaque), and dropping acid on your teeth and gums, causing infection and bleeding.
The battle going on in your mouth –
Your body will try to heal this bacterial infection by starting the inflammation process (basically sending a bunch of helpful cells to the infected area to do battle). This inflammation causes your gums to get thicker and bleed more. Now, with your gums inflamed and bleeding, it’s even easier for food to get stuck between your teeth and for bacteria to enter your bloodstream. There are plenty of studies that cite oral bacteria entering the bloodstream as a cause of Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.
Flossing is a great tool to boost your immune system –
If the body is trying to fight a powerful infection in your mouth, your immune system is compromised. Everyone is trying to boost their immune system with celery juice and kale salads, but don’t overlook the fact that keeping your mouth free from infection is a HUGE part of the equation. You can drink all the immune-boosting smoothies you want, but if you don’t floss, your body will be sending healing resources to your mouth instead of other places in your body.
Flossing and brushing are about continuously creating a food and housing shortage for the bacteria in your mouth. Consistency is key! If you want help starting a flossing habit, read our article on how Habit-Stacking can get you there.
How to Floss Correctly:
- Start with 18″ of floss. Wind most of it around one of your middle fingers and the rest around the same finger on your other hand.
- Hold the floss tightly with about 1″ of floss between your hands. Glide the floss between teeth with a gentle sawing motion.
- You’ll feel resistance when the floss reaches your gum-line. Getting below this gum-line is essential! Gently curve the floss into a C-shape against your tooth.
- Hold the floss against each tooth, gently scraping the tooth’s side while moving the floss away from the gum. Repeat on all teeth. (Don’t forget the very back ones.)
- Follow by brushing!
Be brave! If you haven’t flossed recently, your gums may feel sore or bleed. Don’t worry—as with any habit, it will get easier and more comfortable with time. And your now-healthier gums will start to feel better as the inflammation decreases.
If you’re still having a hard time, try getting some fancy gadgets to get you through it. Two cool gadgets we love these days are:
This ingenious little apparatus resembles miniature nunchucks. HA! Really, you have to see them. In addition to being fun to play with, the two-handle system increases dexterity and control, allowing you to easily make the
C-Shape to get below the gum line. Added bonus, you don’t have to put your hands in your mouth.
Waterpik™ Power Flosser
If you hate the idea of floss all together, this flosser makes it so you’ll have little room for excuses. With the power flosser, which works at 10,000 strokes per minute, it’s easy to clean plaque between teeth and above and below the gum-line. The flosser uses disposable flexible flossing tips which are versatile enough to clean in tough to reach spots like the back teeth, and especially way back by the wisdom teeth where plaque and food debris tend to accumulate most.
**For the very best results – I still recommend flossing beforehand. It’ll loosen all the food particles and build-up for Waterpik™ to really get the best water flossing accomplished. However, using the Waterpik™ alone is certainly a great starting point and better than not flossing at all.