Do you floss?

Well, do ya?

No. I should though.

So, for years my oral hygienist has given me the regular lecture on flossing.

My theory was always that I brush daily and visit the dentist every 6 months or so - shouldn’t that be enough? If my non-flossing costs me a few extra minutes of scraping every 6 months, and perhaps one extra cavity every decade or so, then I’m not sure it’s worth 2-4 minutes daily of an unpleasant activity. FWIW, I’m 37, and have had perhaps 6 or so cavities filled in my life.

Anyways, on my most recent visit, the hygienist did some quick measurements on my gum depth and said they were not looking good, and I’d get a full set of measurements on my next appointment. Supposedly, not flossing can lead to gum disease, which leads to gum surgery and other issues. My wife, who takes far better care of her mouth than I do (and flosses), had this done a year or two back.

It seems somehow wrong that mankind lived for thousands of years with little mouth care, and I brush daily with fluoride toothpaste and visit the dentist regularly, but that’s still not enough. Next you’ll be telling me that everyone over 40 back in the day wore dentures. (Yeah, yeah, please don’t interrupt my little rant with facts…)

Not flossing can apparently also lead to heart disease, as bacteria in your gum line have a direct route into your bloodstream when your gums are bleeding (i.e. when you don’t floss). Hearing this from my hygenist and then reading a summary of some research along those lines was what flipped me over into flossing daily (her comments about gum disease helped too). Previously I’d always figured that since I’ve never had any cavities it didn’t really matter, and flossing always shuffled off the bottom of my morning routine.

One of the key things for me to switch to actually flossing every day was switching to those little plastic flossers you can now find in the supermarket, instead of plain old dental floss. They’re well worth the small additional cost.

Yeah, my hygeniest mentioned the heart disease thing too, though I’m not sure if she explained WHY there was a link. I was thinking maybe it was just correlation (those who take poor care of their mouth take poor care of the rest of their body), but Jasper’s explanation makes sense.

Sigh - getting old ain’t fun. Gray hairs. Nose hairs. Paying attention to what the doctor/dentist/hygienist tells you…

Oh, and I got diagnosed with glaucoma a couple years ago (fun, fun). And in the last month or two my hand has started getting sore - which might possibly be some kind of early arthritis, or perhaps tendinitis, or something bad anyways.

When do I have to start hitching my pants up to my chest?

A good floss thread makes flossing many times easier than it used to be.

This stuff rocks…


Flossing doesn’t actually add that much time to a daily hygiene routine, maybe a minute or so.

Also, back in the old days, life expectancy was like 35 or something.

  • Alan

You know, I started flossing as well, particularly because I found the little toothbrush-like floss thingy from Reach, instead of having to do some ridiculous rope trick while jamming my hand in my mouth.

But let’s all remember that dentists, while not quacks, aren’t above a little creative marketing. This new “gum depth” measurement thingy seems designed to drive sales of expensive procedures. Unless everyone suddenly started being in danger of excessive gum depth at the same time?


That Satin floss is very good, especially if you find regular dental floss difficult to fit between your teeth.
Anything that reduces the amount of time the hygienist spends scraping at my teeth and gums is worth the time spent in itself

The other thing I’ve heard about brushing (not so much flossing), is that our modern diets contain large amounts of processed sugars, which are relatively new. Thus the need to brush to offset that.

Note that life expectancy != life span.

Life expectancy is just an average, and as such is brought down significantly by high infant mortality rates. Most people just lived with really crappy/missing teeth.

BTW, I floss almost every day (4-7 times per week) plus I use a sonicaire (occasionally - I used to use it religiously, but for some reason I stopped). I inherited really weak teeth, and I’m doing my best to make sure I keep 'em as long as possible.

That might be an important consideration in regard to things like tooth whitening procedures, but I don’t see much payoff for the average dentist in excessive diagnosis of gum disease. AFAIK, if you actually have gum disease, you’re generally referred to a specialist. So, unless there was some kind of kickback arrangement from the specialist, there’s not much incentive for the dentist to overdiagnose gum problems.

It looks legit, from this article:

A good trending approach, I suppose it’s just a somewhat new thing as far as number of dentists that are doing it.


I always hated flossing until I got the floss wand (or whatever you call it) and I always hated mouthwash until I found the non-alcohol variety; since using both daily my checkups have gone well – especially when they do those horrible gum depth tests.

Non-alcohol variety? Something that doesn’t feel like a mouthful of gasoline?


edit: Oh, and this is what we’re talking about, I can’t recommend it highly enough:

When you pull out smelly wads of stuff from between your teeth, flossing suddenly seems like a great idea…

I try to floss every day, but i admit, if my mouth “feels clean” i’ll probably skip doing it that night/morning. I use an electric brush and i still finds things between my teeth - especially my rearmost molars.

I have a small jaw and some of my teeth are crooked in the back where you can’t see them - depite having both wisdom teeth and a set of canines removed at an earlier age (including a frightenly demonic looking vampiric spur tooth that was literally a little round fang), my mouth is still too darn small and my teeth are too crowded, so proper dental care is a must.

Man we get this thread a lot. I use a waterpik aqua flosser. My dentist likes them, and I haven’t needed an actual tooth cleaning in over a decade. I have veneers, so it’s important to take extra care of my teeth.

I have crappy enamel on my teeth (probably due to overuse of antibiotics when I was a kid, or bad genetics) so I try to take care of what I can. So I do floss pretty much every day.

I dunno about you people, but I thought it was pretty gross when I fished out some funky smelling stuff from my teeth the first couple times I did it. I don’t want that crap staying in my mouth!

I recommend Reach floss, or whatever it is that’s teflon coated (whatever ISN’T waxed string). I have all sorts of funky gaps between my teeth and they rip non-Reach floss all to hell. And who wants floss stuck in their teeth (cuz, like, you CAN’T FLOSS IT OUT!).

I have also read about the link between flossing and heart disease. It was either on TV a short while ago or there was a report. I don’t have it at hand but I’m fairly certain it’s the real deal.

Do they make it in minty fresh flavor now?