According to a recent survey by Harris Poll on behalf of the American Academy of Periodontology and published on Perio.org, 27% of Americans over 30 admit they lie to their dentists about the frequency of their flossing. (It’s safe to assume they overestimate…) Flossing, apparently, is such an abhorrent task that 36% would rather do “an unpleasant activity” such as cleaning the toilet, washing dishes, waiting in line, sitting in gridlock or doing taxes.
How much and when to floss?
Once daily – and brush twice daily.
There’s no definitive answer on whether to floss before or after brushing, according to the New York Times “Well” blog: “Based on existing evidence, flossing first isn’t necessarily better,” it says.
The “Well” blog quotes two dentists with disparate views. Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett, professor of restorative dentistry at UCLA and spokesman for the American Dental Association, says floss first because it gets the icky task out of the way. But Dr. Philippe Hujoel, professor of oral health sciences at University of Washington, says if you brush with a fluoride toothpaste first, “your mouth will be awash with fluoride as you are maneuvering the floss.”
The AAP also recommends an annual periodontal exam, where a specialist examines the health of your mouth and gums.
Why you should floss.
According to the AAP, it can help prevent periodontal (gum) disease -- a “chronic inflammatory disease caused when bacteria in plaque below the gum line leads to swelling, irritation, receding gums and tooth loss.”
Gum disease has also been associated with serious conditions like diabetes, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Alzheimer’s and cancer.
Why else you should floss.
Another stat from the AAP’s Harris Poll: 60% of adults say the oral health of their partner affects intimacy. And a third, especially women, are likely to notice a smile first – when they meet someone.
So, are you thinking about changing your floss-ophy now?