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It’s a fact that dentists can’t avoid: most people hate to floss. In fact, the U.S. News and World Report claims that lots of people – about 32% of Americans – just don’t do it!

The hate around flossing has even had studies backing it up in recent years. In 2016, the Associated Press published a report that claimed there was only “weak, very unreliable” evidence that flossing even works. This report fueled the fire for all those Americans who don’t like to floss. Now, even more people might be skipping this important step when they care for their teeth.

Look, we get it. Sticking a piece of floss between your teeth can be uncomfortable, and the process isn’t exactly quick or easy. However, the anti-floss folks may not understand that dental floss is an important part of a healthy oral hygiene routine.

Why Do We Floss?

Organizations like the American Dental Association and the American Academy of Periodontology have been telling us to floss for decades… but why? The answer is simple: flossing helps remove plaque from between your teeth and along the gumline. This helps reduce the number of bacteria in your mouth and can reduce your risk of gingivitis.

You might be wondering why you need to floss to remove that plaque and bacteria. Shouldn’t brushing be enough?

Unfortunately, no. Brushing can’t always reach those spots between your teeth or right where your teeth meet your gums. You need a smaller tool – like a small piece of string – to really get into those spots and scrub away any buildup.

When you skip flossing, you let all that bacteria sit in those hard to reach places, making a home for themselves right on your teeth. This can lead to cavities, gum disease, and several other issues that can impact the health and beauty of your smile. Trust us, it’s just not worth it!

The Benefits of Flossing

If flossing is so important, why did the Associated Press say it didn’t work? It might be because flossing is more of a long-term investment.

In 2012, a report from the Journal of Dental Hygiene revealed that the benefits of flossing aren’t visible after one or three months of consistent practice. After six months, however, people who floss have a far lower risk of gum disease and cavities than people who don’t.

Of course, there are some immediate benefits to flossing your teeth. When you add floss to your oral hygiene, your teeth look cleaner and brighter (thanks to all that extra scrubbing). Floss removes excess food particles you might not even notice right away, giving you a more beautiful smile.

The benefits of flossing even extend beyond just looking great (though that is a big bonus). Some studies suggest that there is a link between oral issues like periodontal disease and greater health problems like heart disease. By taking an extra minute to floss your teeth, you might be investing in your overall health.

How to Have a Healthy Smile

If you want to have a nice smile, you need to have healthy teeth and gums. How do you do that? By brushing and flossing your teeth every day! Adding flossing to your oral hygiene routine is a great way to make sure you look your best and keep yourself healthy.

Another way to make sure your teeth look their best is to visit your dentist regularly. Make sure you pay your dentist a visit twice a year – and if you haven’t had an appointment in a while, today’s a great day to start!