Ed note: This is part one of two on flossing. I recently had a both inspiring and empowering visit to the dentist’s chair, and I am veritably, nerdily enthused about the magic of floss. Enjoy!
Twice a year, we all end up in that strangely shaped chair, a masked and armed assistant poised over us and a spit-sucker draped precariously over our lower lip…Yes, twice a year, even college students go to the dentist for what feels like a ﬁnal exam of our oral health abilities. Pertinent periodontal questions will be answered: Is my brushing technique up to par? Do I swish mouthwash with enough vigor? Will I be told I’m drinking too much coffee (the horror!)? And without fail, before we leave this jaw-dropping exam, we are reminded to ﬂoss.
Flossing is really tripping me up these days. I have always been told that easing a waxy strip of gloriﬁed thread between my molars, incisors, and everything tooth in-between, is essential to having amazing dental hygiene. And dentists throw out powerful messages such as “you only ﬂoss the teeth you want to keep” as they prowl through your mouth. But why is there such a lack of emphasis on reasons to ﬂoss in the real world?
A simple search on Google proves I’m not making chewing gum out of toothpaste here. Finding well researched articles about the beneﬁts of ﬂossing is actually difﬁcult. And ﬁnding articles that throw down the ﬂossing facts in a way that someone outside the American Dental Association would understand is darn near impossible. After sifting through articles that all seemed to have been written by the same person whose job it is to slightly revise the same information for a variety of sources, here’s what I have boiled down as to why you, the college student, should keep your toothbrush close, and your dental ﬂoss closer:
Halitosis is the Grossest
The point of ﬂossing is to clean where no toothbrush has gone before – between your teeth. And what is between your teeth? Tiny bits of old food and plaque that build up and will emit a peculiar odor when you open your mouth to talk, smile, breathe, and yes, kiss that girl you’ve had your eye on in class. Bad breath is a killjoy for any conversation, and leads to certain doom when leaning in close for a canoodle.
If you don’t ﬂoss, there is more chance of your smile resembling those incredibly terrifying pictures your dentist has up on their wall next to their diplomas. Scraggly gums, giant gaps, and worst of all – removed teeth.
Saving Teeth is Good for Your Life
Your mouth is a warm, spongy gateway to the rest of your body. Good germs, gnarly germs, and bacteria of all shapes and sizes, can and do enter you physical being through your mouth. By cleaning out all the little crevices between your teeth, you are not only increasing the life-span of your chompers, but you are taking more steps towards overall well being.
No Pain is a Mouthful of Gain
Um, have you had dental work done ever? Flossing decreases your chances of needing to spend extra time in the dental chair. So unless your dentist is incredibly witty and interesting, a daily ﬂoss can get you back on campus and in the classroom–a much preferable place to be.
Flossing does not have to suck the life out of you. At least group on the internet is at least attempting to make ﬂossing appear to suck less than we’re prone to believe it does – The National Flossing Council. You can ﬁnd ﬂossing haiku, ﬂossing videos, and information about the annual Flossing Day holiday. But for the most part, you’re going to have be your own cheerleader when it comes to fetching the ﬂoss. My suggestion? Do it with a friend. If misery loves company, then ﬂossing loves a party.
Curious about how to floss more effectively? Stay tuned!