Can't Floss Regularly? Once a Day Keeps Tartar Away!
Despite recommendations and warnings from dentists about the importance of regular flossing, many people admit they still don't do it, and countless more floss only in the days and weeks before or after their semi-annual cleanings and checkups, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD).
The reasons patients cite for not flossing are many, but lack of time is the most common. Many patients feel guilty about not flossing daily, and some abandon the practice all together.
"I request that my patients floss once a day for control of tartar build-up on their teeth, because plaque is continually developing on your teeth, causing cavities and gum disease," says AGD spokesperson Barbara Rich, DDS.
Dr. Rich tells people not to give up – flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits, and it's far better than not flossing at all. "At least get in there and break up those colonies of bacteria and germs so they aren't accumulating for quite so long."
"I tell patients they don't have to make flossing a 20-minute routine in front of the mirror, but floss correctly by sliding the floss against the side surfaces of the teeth – not just sliding it between the teeth. Once you are familiar with flossing, floss when and where you have time. You can even keep floss near your favorite chair and do it while watching television."
She also tells patients who have trouble fitting it into their routine that they might try flossing earlier in the evening, or even during a break at work. "Although the best time to floss is before bed, getting it done is more important than what time it's done."
Some patients report they stop flossing because they noticed that their gums bleed when they floss. "That means there are germs and inflammation in there. Patients should continue flossing, and the bleeding will usually stop within a week or two," says Dr. Rich. Those who don't floss due to arthritis or lack of dexterity can try specially designed plastic holders for dental floss.
Updated: February 2007