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THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

THE GENTLEMen's DEPARTMENT

November 30, 2018

How to Floss Your Teeth like a Boss Single Men's Dating Guide

Flossing is one of those chores that we learn to hate at a young age. It’s like cleaning behind your ears. The problem is that it really is important. That’s doubly true if you’re single and dating. Without a good flossing routine, your breath will be worse, your teeth will deteriorate, and you’ll be at greater risk for meeting a gorgeous woman with something embarrassing stuck between your teeth. No more. Today is the day you learn how to floss and make it a part of your daily life.

How Often Should You Floss?

Recent research has actually shed doubt on the standard answers to this question. It turns out that flossing, like everything else, can be bad if you do it too much. That said, doing it too little is far worse. If you dive down the rabbit hole of dental research (who doesn’t prefer to spend their Saturdays reading research articles?), you’ll find a number of different answers to this question. You’ll probably also start to worry about how many rare and obscure gum diseases you have. It’s like getting on WebMD. It’s makes your skin itch a lot more than it helps anything.

So, you can save yourself a little stress and take the easy answer. The American Dental Association put a lot of work into building a consensus, and the rule of thumb is to floss once a day. That’s enough to keep you healthy, and it’s not enough to cause chronic issues.

Now, some people have particularly sensitive gums or teeth. You might be a special case. If so, you can talk to your dentist. You might be better off only flossing every few days. If, however, your dentist doesn’t make such a recommendation, then daily is the way to go.

how to floss your teeth like a boss

When Should You Floss?

There’s good and bad news here. The good news is that it doesn’t matter what time you floss. As long as you’re doing it every day, you’re fine. Whether it’s morning, evening, during your lunch or any other time, all that matters is frequency. You also have to do it right, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

The bad news is that there’s no set time. Being prone to laziness and inconsistency, dentists can’t just scold you into keeping a flossing schedule. You’ll have to be a grown up and take care of the routine yourself. Don’t worry too much. You’ll get to learn a few tips to help with that too.

Is There a Right Way to Floss?

Yes, there’s a right way to do it. In fact, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association has put together a lesson to help you master the right technique. You should trust them. They literally clean other people’s teeth for a living.

Wind. The first step to a good flossing is to wind about 18 inches of floss around your middle finger. You then pinch the floss between your thumb and index finger (no surprises there) to hold it. You want about one to two inches of floss stretched between both hands where you’ll pinch it with the other thumb and index finger. As you floss, you want to unwind the string from your wrapped middle finger and slowly wind the used floss on the other finger. If it sounds a little confusing, this video will show you how.

Guide. When you actually push the floss between your teeth, you want to play with the angle of attack in order to get it to go gently between the teeth. The trick is to avoid a snapping motion. That can cause stress on the gums. So, you don’t have to push too hard, even if you have tight teeth. Just fiddle until you can guide it gently between them.

Glide. When you are pushing the floss between your teeth, you want to gently slide it in a zig zag. This is will give you more control and help you avoid snapping. It will also help you floss your gums gently. You do want the floss to get up under the gums a little, but if you go too hard, you’ll cut or bruise them.

Slide. When you floss, the point is to scrub your teeth. You’re using this stuff to remove plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. Sliding the floss up and down the teeth is how you accomplish the goal.

how to floss your teeth like a boss

What If Flossing Hurts?

It’s not uncommon for flossing to cause discomfort, mild pain and bleeding when you first get started. Dentists are aware of this, and they have some gentle advice for you. Stop being a baby. If you stay at it every day for a couple of weeks, your gums will toughen. They’ll stop hurting and stop bleeding, so don’t worry about it.

Now, maybe you have exceptional pain when you floss. If it doesn’t diminish over time, the first thing you want to do is check your technique. If you’re blitzing your gums every day, then toughness isn’t the problem. If you’re sure it’s not a technique problem, then see a dentist. Your new flossing habit may have just uncovered a problem that merits professional help.

On the other hand, you might just be a wimp after all.

Which Floss Is Best?

Now that you know how to floss, it’s time to take a look at your tools. You’d do this for anything else in your life. Tooth care is no different. By and large, floss comes in three kinds that server most people: nylon, waxed nylon, and polytetrafluorethylene (PTFE, also, thanks spellcheck!). Standard nylon is the stuff you can probably get for free from your dentist. It’s cheap and it works. It’s also made of fibers, and that can make it prone to fraying or breaking while you’re doing your thing.

Waxed floss slides through the teeth a little more easily. The wax also solves the fraying problem. If this stuff is breaking between your teeth, you’re doing something wrong. Here’s the catch. For all of these benefits, waxed nylon costs a little more. It’s nothing exorbitant, but some guys like to be cheap, and that’s fine. 

PTFE is engineered for flossing. It’s a derivative of Gore-Tex. That makes it super strong, and it glides very easily. It’s probably safe to call it the best floss, but you’re paying for those advantages.

The last thing you need to consider is the thickness of your floss. Obviously, this depends on your teeth. Your goal is to have floss that hugs your teeth but isn’t so thick that it always snaps or can’t get in there.

What If I Have a Retainer?

You should be thankful for that permanent retainer (or any other dental device). It’s the difference between a smile that looks like Tom Cruise or Sloth from the Goonies. Then again, it can make flossing a huge pain. The easiest solution is to get threaded floss. It’s designed for this exact problem, and you can basically stab it between your teeth under the retainer. It’s worth the investment. Without it, you’re skipping a lot of your teeth and you’ll end up looking like Sloth even with that retainer.

If the threaded floss isn’t enough, you can consult your dentist. There are plenty of specialized flossing tools that can overcome pretty much any problem. Take a look and find whatever works for you.

how to floss your teeth like a boss

How Do I Make it a Habit?

You have good intentions. In fact, you didn’t need to read any of this to acknowledge the importance of flossing. The problem is that you just forget to do it. There are a few things that can help. First, you can floss whenever you remember. Whether you’re at work, a restaurant or just not driving, it’s fine to stop and floss. Put some in your car, any bags you keep with you or your pocket if you need to. Also, remember that flossing isn’t really about getting food from between your teeth. Sure, it’s a nice relief, but the point of flossing is to get rid of plaque. You can even do that right before a meal.

The next thing to learn is a simple trick for forming a good habit. You just want to add it to something you already do. For most people, that means flossing when you brush. Whether you do it before or after doesn’t matter. Just stick to whatever is easier to remember.

Flossing doesn’t have to go with brushing though. Some people prefer to floss in the shower. That keeps it from feeling like a separate chore, and they remember better. You can add to anything you like. Just don’t floss while you’re on the can. That’s weird.

If you still need more help, you can use technology to aid you. Download an app that will give you reminders to floss. You can even text FLOSS to 313131 and they’ll send you reminder messages for 10 days (messaging/data rates still apply). There’s plenty of help; you just have to try.

Do you feel like an expert yet? Flossing isn’t actually complicated, but it is super important. Apply these easy lessons and you’ll have a great smile, cleaner teeth, better breath and a more successful love life. Those might sound like big promises, but they really aren’t. It’s a simple matter of taking care of your teeth.

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