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Survey: Americans Need to Floss More (and with the Right Tools)

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Pop quiz: How often are you supposed to be flossing?

Answer: At least once a day.

The benefits of flossing are crucial as it doesn't just remove food stuck between the teeth, it also helps remove plaque and helps maintain good gum health. Noting this, you'd be surprised to learn just how few Americans floss daily, according to an October 2017 study conducted by the American Dental Association. Per the survey, which consisted of 1,005 adults, only about 16 percent floss daily. An additional 20 percent say they only floss when they think something is stuck in their teeth and a shocking 8 percent state that they never floss.

Why the Lack of Flossing?

Since only 16 percent of those surveyed claim that they floss daily, you might be wondering just why people don't floss. The biggest reason, per 55 percent of the respondents, is because it's too time consuming. An additional 16 percent said that flossing is too painful and 9 percent say that it's "gross" when citing reasons why they don't floss every day. Let's dive into these a bit more:

  • "It's too painful": Flossing is only painful for one of two reasons: You're either doing it wrong or your lack of flossing has led to the onset of gum disease. In terms of the former, you just need to floss correctly. This is best done via a push-pull motion, where the floss moves gently up and down the sides of the tooth. If you're doing it correctly and it's still painful, you should see a dentist for a deep cleaning to attempt to reverse gum disease.
  • "Gross": Yeah, flossing isn't always pretty and it can make a mess on the mirror. One idea is to floss in the shower. This way, the plaque and food that come out of the teeth are likely to get washed away by the water rather than sit on your bathroom mirror until cleaning day.
  • "Too time consuming": See above, as flossing in the shower can make it more efficient. In reality, however, a good floss job can be performed in a matter of minutes. Nobody should be too busy to spare a few minutes out of their day towards better dental health.

Use the Right Tools

Also noted in the survey are some of the bizarre things that people use as floss. Respondents cited things like their fingernails, paper or cards, cutlery, safety pins and hair as tools they've used to floss when they're in a bind. It goes without saying that these tools don't make for ideal floss. It’s important to make smart choices around using the right dental tools. Instead, stick to things like:

  • Standard dental floss: A tried and true product.
  • Floss water jet tool: These toothbrush-like-sized tools shoot high pressured water into areas of the mouth to dislodge plaque and food.
  • Professional cleaning sticks: These special flossing sticks make handheld flossing easier.

 For more information on the importance of flossing, contact Caven Dental today.

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