Although most people will acknowledge that flossing is incredibly important for oral health, only 16 percent of Americans floss at least once a day. This is especially perplexing when you consider that flossing is inexpensive, accessible, and requires relatively little time. For many people, it’s all about building the habit. After all, don’t you brush your teeth daily? You’ve developed that habit since childhood, and now it would feel strange if you didn’t brush in the morning and at night. If you want to floss regularly, you need to learn how to get into the habit of flossing. Check out our tips below to develop a rock-solid flossing habit.
Why Don’t People Floss Enough (or at All)?
So why do many people choose not to floss? According to a survey released in October 2017, the most common reasons Americans cited for not flossing were (1) it’s too time consuming, (2) it’s too painful, and (3) it’s “gross.” These simply aren’t good reasons to forego flossing.
Although people do live very busy lives these days, most of us can spare a few minutes each day to prevent gum disease and tooth decay, remove the gunk between our teeth, and freshen our breath. If you find flossing painful, you’re likely either not flossing enough or flossing too roughly. And if you find flossing gross, just think about all the icky food debris and bacteria that resides in your mouth and how it will continue residing there for weeks on end if you never floss!
If you’ve always wanted to develop a solid flossing habit, check out the handy tips below.
How to Get into the Habit of Flossing
Establish a trigger.
If you simply forgot to floss most of the time, try establishing a “trigger.” Look for a habit that’s already a part of your daily routine and pair it with flossing. For example, I’m guessing you already brush your teeth each night. Why not decide that you will always floss after brushing your teeth? Or, you likely always eat lunch. Why not decide to always floss after lunch, so you can get those little bits of food out of your teeth before carrying on with your day? Floss immediately after an established habit to build it into your routine.
Put your floss where you can see it, or leave yourself a note.
If you never see your floss, you may simply forget it exists until your dental hygienist asks you, “Have you been flossing regularly?” So put it where you can see it. Perhaps you can find a home for it beside your toothpaste. Or, you might find it helpful to leave yourself a note (on your bathroom mirror, at your desk, etc.) to remind yourself to floss. Eventually, once you’ve made flossing a habit, you won’t need the note anymore.
Tell yourself you only have to floss one tooth, then two, then three . . .
Perhaps this sounds silly, but it can work! If you tell yourself that you’re only required to floss one tooth, you’re more likely to get started because it sounds so incredibly simple and easy. In many cases, after flossing one tooth, you’ll shrug your shoulders and floss them all. But even if you do only floss one tooth, you’re accomplishing something! The next day, tell yourself you must floss two teeth. The day after that, three teeth, and so on. Although you won’t get the full benefits of flossing at first, eventually, you’ll be brushing all your teeth each day.
Create a calendar.
Are you a goal-oriented person? Do you love crossing items off your to-do list? Consider creating a calendar just for flossing. Each day after flossing, mark a big X on the calendar on that day. Not only will this help you keep track of your new habit, but also you may start flossing on days you don’t particularly want to because you want to keep your streak going.
Pair it with something fun.
If you dread flossing each day, try combining it with something you find more enjoyable. For example, you could put on a favorite song every time you floss. Or, you could play a bit of a podcast or a YouTube video. Depending on the location of your bathroom, you could glance back and forth between the mirror and your TV. With a little background entertainment, flossing won’t seem quite so boring.
Appreciate your clean teeth afterward.
After flossing, take a moment to look at your teeth in the mirror and appreciate how clean they look. Focus on the benefits you get from flossing, not the annoying or boring bits. You might also find it motivating to look at all the bits of debris and gunk on the dirty floss. Pat yourself on the back for getting all of that unpleasantness out of your mouth!
Sure, flossing isn’t exactly fun. But it can protect your oral health, freshen your breath, improve the appearance of your smile, and much more. Now that you know how to get into the habit of flossing, give these ideas a try and see how they work for you. And remember – flossing daily is the goal, but even flossing every other day is better than not flossing at all. Take small steps in the right direction and before you know it, you’ll think of flossing as just another part of your daily routine.
If you’re looking for an experienced, reliable, and friendly dentist near Springfield, Missouri, contact Wilkinson Dental. Dr. Wilkinson and his team will give you the personalized treatment you deserve using state-of-the-art technology. For exceptional and comprehensive dental care, schedule your first appointment today by calling 417-708-0556 or requesting an appointment online. We look forward to hearing from you!