4 strategies to start (and keep) flossing

You know you should do it every day. Your dentist keeps telling you flossing is important. And you’ve heard it before: Flossing is one of the best ways to reduce your chance of gum disease and prevent those hard-to-drill cavities that can form between teeth. But it’s so easy to end the day without picking up the floss.

No longer. Here are four tips to help you finally incorporate this essential step into your daily routine.

1. Choose the perfect floss.

If you want to floss regularly, it helps to enjoy it. What better way than to use the right floss? Head to your local drugstore and try a new type of floss.

Maybe you appreciate a silky waxed thread that glides smoothly between your teeth. Or perhaps flavored gum is more your style: the sweet taste of bubblegum — or bacon. Always have trouble reaching those back molars? A pre-threaded flosser may be just what you need. Whatever it is, stock up on the type of floss that makes flossing less painful for you.

Once you get into the swing of things, you may start loving that minty clean — or bacon-y — feeling between your teeth.

Did you know?

When you floss regularly, your gums are less likely to bleed, according to a Cochrane study review in 2011.

2. Store your floss in plain sight.

Out of sight, out of mind. Keep your dental floss in your line of vision so you don’t have any excuse to forget it. Place it on your bathroom counter, by your sink or next to your toothbrush.

3. Designate floss time.

To make flossing feel routine, devote a specific time of day to flossing. It might be before bed, after brushing your teeth. It could be right after you wake up in the mornings. Or maybe your lunch break at work. Whatever time you choose, make sure it’s one that fits your schedule, and stick to it.

4. Keep extra floss handy.

When you get into the habit of flossing regularly, your floss may start running out sooner. Don’t let that be an excuse for skipping a day or two. Buy floss in bulk, and keep extras lying around. Toss some floss into your backpack, briefcase or purse. Keep some at your desk at work. Wherever you are, your floss should be within reach.

Get the most out of flossing

Now that you’re flossing regularly, here’s how to make it really count.

1. Use about 18 to 24 inches of floss.

2. Wrap the ends around your index and middle fingers.

3. Slip the floss between your teeth, and gently slide it down each tooth in a “C” shape. Avoid sawing motions, which can hurt your gums.

4. Use a clean section of floss each time to avoid spreading bits of food and bacteria.

5. Be thorough. Don’t leave a single tooth unflossed! Surprisingly enough, that includes your very back teeth. Flossing behind your back molars can help remove plaque from between the tooth and gums.