You Don’t Like Flossing Your Teeth, And You Don’t Like Cleaning Out Your Refrigerator, For The Very Same Reasons-Here Are The 11 Ways To Make Flossing Easier…

image of open refrigerator-Your refrigerator can show you how to be a more effective flosser

Your refrigerator can show you how to be a more effective flosser

1.  You don’t want to clean out your refrigerator. Nobody does. Unless there is a good reason. Why? It’s hard work. Sure, there are huge benefits. But, it’s still hard work. A lot like flossing.

2.   What’s hiding at the back of your bottom shelf? You have any idea? Fear is the problem, you don’t know what you’ll find there.

3.   Does it smell funny, or really stink? Or, has it been bad so long you’re just used to it? How about when company comes over, do they fall over in a dead faint when they open the door? What do they really think of your clean refrigerator now? Think fresh breath and how flossing will help.

4.   When you finally clean your refrigerator, what does clean look like? How about…how it looked when it was brand new? Sparkling clean? Maybe that’s a stretch. But how close can you get to that original appearance? Think shiny pearly white teeth.

image of Beautiful clean pearly white teeth result only from excellent flossing.

Beautiful clean pearly white teeth result only from excellent flossing.

5.   You’ve got to remove all the food from the the shelves and bins.

6.   It’s decision time now. What’s safe to keep. Anything slimy or fails the smell test? Any items past the “Best If Used By” or “Sell By” dates by a week or two? No judging, but it’s time to get rid of that stuff. It’s like removing food debris with a water rinse after a meal. You’re disposing of leftovers that have outlived their usefulness.

7.   During your cleanup project you remove bins and drawers and shelves if necessary, to get to hidden areas. It helps you do deep cleaning. For your mouth, it’s like taking out night-guards, retainers, and partial dentures.  You can’t clean if there’s stuff in the way.

8.   Look for those Tupperware® and Zip-Lok® containers where what’s inside is covered with blue-green mold. Hold your breath and dump them out for safety. There are hidden food traps in your mouth that need the same attention, more than just a rinse. This is where some of the specialty devices mentioned below can help you.

Image of Refrigerator container with moldy food inside. Just like the hidden recesses of your mouth.

Refrigerator container with moldy food inside. Just like the hidden recesses of your mouth.

9.   A good scrubbing with a brush helps dislodge more debris. It gradually starts to remove the thick, dried and sticky deposits. A wash rag or water spray bottle also help soften up sticky dried spills and drips so they can be wiped away. You understand, it’s not the first time you’ve cleaned your refrigerator. A spray bottle is like using a water flossing appliance.

10.  Finally, after every part and piece is clean you return the bins, shelves, drawers and racks. Finally you are done. Satisfied, with a big smile on your face. It looks wonderful. The easy way for you to keep your refrigerator clean is to do a little bit every day.

11.  But what if you’ve got a case of the “lazys”. Yeah, in a pinch you could wait a few days to clean it, maybe even a week or two. You know, your refrigerator preserves food by keeping it cold. It slowing bacterial growth. But since your mouth is toasty warm, waiting a few days to clean your teeth and gums is not a good idea.

Flossing Your Teeth Is Just Like Cleaning Out Your Refrigerator, Except Your Mouth Is Warm And Loaded With Tons Of Bacteria

There is no better place to grow bacteria than where it is toasty warm, moist and dark. And your mouth qualifies for all three. Almost immediately bacteria cause leftover food to deteriorate forming noxious odors. Sticky plaque forms within minutes, clinging to your teeth in clumps, as bacteria grow on leftover lunch. The only reason food survived for days in your refrigerator is because it’s cold. Your mouth is so warm you certainly can’t wait until the weekend to do it, or ignore it for weeks.

The warmth of your mouth makes it a challenge. You have to move fast to keep your breath fresh so the rest of the world is comfortable being close to you.

But you’ve got all the skills to do an amazing job. Because you can clean a refrigerator you can be a Flossing Superhero!

Image of flossing super hero-If You Can Clean A Refrigerator, You Can Floss Successfully!

If You Can Clean A Refrigerator, You Can Floss Successfully!

Flossing essentially removes the old food, the stale leftovers. It cleans out the expired items and the neglected Tupperware® containers. Once, you get all of the food, the bins, drawers and shelves out of the way, you can get to the smooth surfaces of your refrigerator. Okay. You won’t find bins, drawers and shelves in your mouth. But, you might find retainers, bridges, night-guards, aligners, etc., all of which need to be removed prior to you getting all of the syrupy, sticky, yellowing plaque clumps off the sides and out from between your teeth.

Flossing: Why You Hate It!

  • You say it takes too much time. Yup! But, with practice it could take under two minutes to do a sterling job.
  • You say it takes coordination. A little. But with practice you’ll be surprised how easy it becomes.
  • You say it hurts when floss hits the gums hard. Yup! But with practice it you’ll learn to avoid that, being effective while minimizing the misery.
  • You say it’s hard to know if you are doing it right. Yup! Be consistent because good results mean less tender gums, no bleeding after flossing, and fresher breath all of which are a big plus.
  • You can do it well enough by your self.  Maybe. I suggest a dental hygienist or dentist can serve you well as a great coach to helping you improve your efforts. See one for the best advice for your specific situation.

Flossing: Why You Should Love It!

Go For Healthier Teeth And Avoid Cavities

Floss is designed for use between teeth, removing sticky plaque that forms every day. Plaque’s destructive effect on teeth is related to the acid waste products of cavity causing bacteria. In other words, acidic bacterial poop. The acid dissolves the calcium-rich mineral that comprises enamel, known as hydroxy-apatite. To stop plaque acid from dissolving enamel requires removing plaque from the tooth surfaces.

Plaque is food debris covered with bacteria colonies. It’s a mini petri-dish science lab experiment growing on your teeth. You have plaque creating bacteria living in your mouth right now. How much plaque remains on your teeth throughout each day, undisturbed, is the the key issue.

Go For Healthier gums-Avoid bloody gingivitis and bone destroying gum disease.

Floss, correctly used between your teeth regularly chases out the food that bacteria thrive on. Their job is to destroy your gums. Your job is to starve the little beggars and protect your teeth.

Plaque sitting at the edges of your gums and just inside the cuff or crevice of gum tissue around your teeth irritates the gums and causes them to swell up and bleed. That’s called gingivitis.
Plaque that builds and thickens on teeth, growing into the crevices or pockets around teeth leads to serious gum problems with bone destruction and loose teeth. That’s called periodontitis.

The cleaner you are able to keep the gum areas around your teeth, the less likely you will experience serious bone destroying gum disease. Even though gum disease is caused by different bacteria than those causing cavities, your goal is the same…chase the bacteria out from around your teeth.

image with gingivitis and calculus and tartar before and after

Which looks more kissable to you? The before or the after?

Go For Fresher Breath-Avoid food rotting between your teeth.

Bacteria are waiting for you to deliver food for them to feast on, and are even happier if your cleaning is incomplete and some stays left behind. Food stuck on the sides or wedged between your teeth for more than a couple of hours starts to rot and gives off noxious odors.

Rinse after a meal to remove large pieces of loose food from your teeth. It’s a good start for fresher breath.

Some foods are bad smelling by nature, like garlic and onions. Minimizing the retained leftovers after a meal is a good idea to maintain friendships and health business relationships.

image of odor creating garlic, cheese and sausage

Odor creating garlic, cheese and sausage Courtesy of:

Floss chases residual food out from between your teeth better than any tooth brush. If you smell your floss after use, and it stinks, you should consider flossing more frequently or more effectively. You did not create a stinky problem, you discovered one. I have patients tell me they refuse to floss because it smells bad when they do. I have to inform them the awful smell emanating from their mouth is due to rotting food and gums. But, flossing stands a very good chance of reducing that stink and making for healthier gums too.

Go For A Whiter, Brighter Smile-Avoiding Dingy Yellow Teeth.

Plaque left on your teeth hides their natural shininess and beauty. If your teeth don’t reflect light well they look dingy. Your floss efforts are essential to remove plaque than hides your smile’s natural beauty.

Swollen gums hide the natural beauty of teeth as well. Plaque, consistently ignored, leads to red puffy gums that even non-dental personnel recognize as a smile that just doesn’t look right.

image of Plaque free smile-a great reason to keep flossing.

Plaque free smile- a great reason to keep flossing.

Go For Healthier Whole Body Effects-Reducing Heart Disease, Cancer and Stroke

Healthier teeth and gums reduce your whole body inflammation, which is a good thing. Bacteria from your gums can invade the rest of your body and lead to distant infections. Many studies also link gum problems to heart disease, cancer, stroke, heart attacks and respiratory infections. Simple flossing can extend your life by years.

Taking time to care of your teeth and gums is the best decision you can make. By caring for you teeth and gums your immune system spends time keeping the rest of you healthy instead of wasting resources on easily remedied tooth and gum inflammation.

Yes, it is worth it. It’s hard initially, and it takes a little time if you want to do a good job. And a good job is what’s needed to minimize inflammation attacking the rest of your body.

Goals of Exceptional Flossing-It’s easier if you know what you are trying to accomplish.

  • Remove loose food. (Like taking items off of the refrigerator shelves.)
  • Remove plaque-bacteria growing on leftover food. (Wiping off sticky drips and runs.)
  • Bacteria are sticky and floss scrubs the teeth free of sticky bacteria.
  • Bacteria reproduce aggressively and need to be removed thoroughly at least once per day.

Manual Floss Holding Techniques-Using 18” of floss

Leaving about four to five inches of floss to work with, wrap two wraps of floss around your right middle finger and the balance of the dental floss around your left middle finger. Using your thumb and forefinger, gently direct the floss between your teeth past the tight spot where adjacent teeth touch to the gums where resistance is felt. Then slide it back to the tight spot. Repeat for a total of five additional strokes from tight spot to gums and back. This an up and down sliding action of the floss as it hugs the tooth.

You can also use a loop of floss. Tie a doubled up knot in the dental floss about an inch from the end, so the ends will not slip apart under tension. Stretch the loop of floss with the middle, ring, and little fingers of each hand. Take up a little excess if needed with a middle finger wrap. Using your thumb and forefinger gently direct the floss between your teeth. Direct it past the tight spot where adjacent teeth touch, to the gums where resistance is felt. Then slide it back to the tight spot again. Repeat for a total of five additional strokes from tight spot to gums and back.

Coordination could be a challenge, but is usually not insurmountable. It’s an acquired skill and I know you are up for it.

Traditional Flossing-String Floss Varieties

Glide® floss-It’s made out of the same material that Gore-Tex® fabrics are made from. Yes, it is a PTFE material, a polytetrafluoroethylene. It is slippery so it’s chief advantage is that it slides past the tight spots between your teeth much easier, making your flossing efforts less frustrating with less floss shredding. PTFE’s got a bad reputation used as cooking surface coatings due to high temperature breakdown. The breakdown products are thought to be toxic. But in every day usage as dental floss or outerwear clothing, PTFE’s are quite safe.

Nylon-It is your standard everyday dental floss. It’s available as multiple fine strands that are twisted together. There are thin and thicker varieties some with wax and without. The wax is used to easy the passing of floss between your teeth. Tape is one of my favorites but its hard to find.

Cotton-Common sewing thread doesn’t work well for floss as it is generally too weak to easily pass between teeth without breaking. I know some patients that insist on using all natural floss substitutes. In those cases silk thread would be preferable due to it’s high strength.

Baby Yarn-Wool yarn will generally be too difficult to use to to strength limitations and short strands made of fine animal hair will annoying fuzzies behind. Fine acrylic and polyester yarns have been used by patients with surprisingly good results. They naturally have much longer individual fiber lengths, have more strength leaving fewer fuzzies behind but are too thick to use in most cases.

Superfloss®-This floss comes in pre-determined lengths with a stiffened-end that can be used for threading floss under bridgework and around braces. Another section of the floss is puffed up and yarn like, with the final segment of floss being standard floss. This makes Superfloss® handy for the specialty requirements of cleaning around dental implants too.

Nimbus®-This textured floss is one of my favorites for all around general flossing. The lightly kinked individual strands make for particularly effective plaque removal.

Floss holders

image of floss pick

Floss pick

image of Floss holders.

Floss holders.

image of GUM Flossmate Handle

GUM Flossmate Handle

Floss Picks-This variety is very convenient for purse, wallet, pocket or car console since they are so small. While convenient they do not have the ability to wrap the tooth being cleaned as effectively as traditional floss with good manual technique. But if traditional floss is not your thing, I would much rather have you flossing with these, than not at all.

REACH® Floss holders with replaceable tips that hold floss at 90 degrees from handle work very well if the tight spots between the teeth are not too tight. Excellent for children.

GUM® Flossmate Handle– A holder with a button where you can string the floss from button, to arm, to arm and back to the button. Children can use this quite effectively with your help. Good for both children and adults.
OK, OK I get it! You’ve tried the specialty items, but you are still frustrated. You know there has got to be a a better way.

What’s Available To Make Your Flossing Easier And More Effective? Try Flossing With Water

When You Search for Water Pick Floss-You Will Find Waterpik® Flosser

The Waterpik® Water Flosser is another product that has been in use for years. It has undergone numerous design changes to end up with an effective complement to traditional string flossing. And in many hands it is far superior to traditional floss. It is so effective that I recommend it immediately whenever I see flossing efforts decline. I also recommend it for overachievers so you can attain the best results possible.

The counter top unit operates using a standard electrical plug for power. It comes with a detachable water reservoir that can be filled at the sink with warm water and placed on top to the unit for use. An electric motor operates a pump that sends a series of pulsating water burst through a nozzle placed at the gum line between your teeth. During use, you trace your gumline with the nozzle, pausing between the teeth for several seconds before moving to the next pair of teeth. The unit has an adjustable dial for the water pressure.

As with the Airfloss® unit I recommend using it to trace the gum line on both the cheek side and tongue side of your teeth. A variety of additives can be used in the Waterpik® Water Flosser as long as they are rinsed from the unit using clear water upon completion of use. I would avoid essential oil rich products as some will soften plastics and will destroy the pump.

Image of WaterPik WaterFlosser

WaterPik WaterFlosser

Water Flosser vs String Floss-Which Is Your Best Bet?

Dental floss is my favorite for cleaning plaque from between teeth. It’s simple but not necessarily easy. If you are adept at its use and use it frequently enough you will see and feel the health benefits. If however you have a difficult time using floss because it strangles your fingers and they turn blue from the floss tourniquet, a Waterpik® Water flosser may just the ticket for you.

String floss requires you maintain tension, stretching your floss while working it gently between your teeth. Then you avoid slamming it into your gums after you pass the tight spot between them. It takes practice and control. Then using an up and down motion following the length of the visible tooth, you rub the side, up and down 6 times from tight spot to underneath the gums and back. You will hear a squeak as the floss cleans the last bit of plaque off of you tooth. Can you do that? Not everyone can.

The water flosser requires learning how operate a new device. It has a learning curve, but it gets easier with practice. The biggest complaint I hear from patients, as I often recommend a Waterpik® Water flosser, is that it’s messy, getting their bathroom wet with splatter. The secret to successful use is to close your lips around the tip during spraying. As your mouth fills with water you depress the button on the handle to stop the water flow. Leaning over the sink, let water run from your mouth. Then close your lips again, release the button and the pulsing spray resumes.

I recommend for the most effective cleaning regimen, to brush first with a super soft tooth brush, use traditional floss and then follow up with a Waterpik® Water Flosser. A little more time consuming but it has marvelous results. I am a big fan of water flossing.
Shower and sink models are available from some manufacturers, if you have limited space for a counter top unit. But with these, since there is no reservoir, no additives can be introduced into the spray.

Air Floss-Using air to blast water between your teeth removes plaque and food.

Image of Philips Sonicare Airfloss

Philips Sonicare Airfloss unit

▾ Philips Sonicare Airfloss Ultra® 1, 2 or 3 burst modes

The Air Floss@ unit has been around for several years and now there’s a new and improved version. It is a rechargeable battery operated device that shoots a burst of air and micro-droplets of water between the teeth, from a small reservoir in the handle.

The new version can fire off 1, 2 or 3 bursts in succession. You can imagine using a squirt gun in your mouth to remove large pieces of food from your teeth. If it is positioned between the teeth and activated with the tip in contact with your teeth, the sensation is a bit jarring. As you increase the burst mode through 1, 2, or 3 the reservoir contents will be used up more quickly.

I would recommend using it from the cheek or lip side of the teeth towards the tongue for one round and following up with another from tongue side to cheek. As long as you keep your lips around the tip when using it you will keep the bathroom relatively dry. It may not penetrate between the teeth well enough to remove all plaque but it can help remove most food debris and loose plaque.

Is it as good as excellent flossing? No, but it is better than no flossing at all. Most mouthwashes can be utilized in the reservoir but with one caution, do not use any essential oil mixtures in the unit as they may soften the plastic, gum up the works and you will have a brick.

Air Floss vs Water Floss

Air floss uses both air and water to remove plaque and food. There are limits to the force inflicted on gum tissue without damage. Water propelled by a burst of air can only remove so much plaque. The manufacturer has chosen a safe limit for you based on their research. The limit unfortunately makes for incomplete plaque removal. Incomplete, but better than no flossing attempt at all.

▾ Power Flossers

▾ WaterPik® Power Flosser, Battery Powered An Inchworm Wiggling On Steroids

image of WaterPik® Power Flosser

WaterPik® Power Flosser

This device powered by a AA battery uses mint flavored disposable tips that wiggle 10,000 times per minute, flossing your teeth without water. The blunt nylon tip is narrow enough to slide between your teeth while being gentle on your gums. You’ll have to try it yourself and see if it is easier than traditional flossing.

As effective as traditional flossing? Maybe. But, if gets you to floss where you wouldn’t otherwise, score!

The manufacturer claims the tip “whitens” between your teeth. If whitens means removing yellowy plaque clump, I suppose it “whitens” between your teeth.

▾ Oral-B® Hummingbird Flosser

It’s a battery powered device with two varieties of replaceable plastic tips. One, a “Y” shaped replaceable tip that supports a 3/4 inch piece of dental floss for power flossing. It vibrates the floss while you directed it between your teeth. And two, a plastic flexible toothpick tip for power tooth picking. The device, only three to four inches in length, fits in purse or pocket with a plastic cover for the tooth pick tip. I still have one, and it’s handy, but unfortunately it’s been discontinued by the manufacturer.

Open Your Refrigerator-And Think-Flossing My Teeth Is Really Easy

Almost every day there are routines that you and I always stick to without fail. Turn off the alarm and wish you had another hour to sleep. Shower. Check. Brush your teeth. Check. Eat breakfast. Check. Floss your teeth. Check and off to work. Most of it’s on auto-pilot, and doesn’t require any real thought. And therein lies the problem.

Somewhere in the ‘getting ready for the day’ part of your morning you peer into into your refrigerator and pull out a few vital items. After breakfast, the remains go back in various containers and wrappings.

The next day is like Groundhogs Day. Repeat, on auto-pilot, through the rest of the week.

At the end of the week things are accumulating, but you may not see them. Why? Because even your looking is on auto-pilot.

It’s looking without seeing. Guys can be a good example of this at the end of the day. Look in fridge. See beer. Grab beer. They’re happy. If asked two seconds later, if they noticed what was next to the beer? No clue. It was just two seconds ago, but, whatever. Total auto-pilot. And guys are not exclusively the only exhibitors of the “look without seeing” phenomenon.

I suggest flossing needs to be part of the deliberate decision making aspect of your daily life. Yes, flossing. Make it part of the deliberate activities and it will eventually drop into the auto-pilot container. Then its easy. If it’s not in the auto-pilot activities container, you are likely headed for trouble with teeth and gums, to say nothing of relationships, job offers and career advancement. I suggest a flossing habit can save you thousands of dollars and help you earn many more. It’s a personal grooming issue and I suggest it’s of extreme importance.

When was the last time the you actually looked into your mouth, close up, in the mirror? Earlier today? Yesterday? Last week? Longer? By the way, does your refrigerator need cleaning too?

Image of open refrigerator-Your refrigerator can show you how to be a more effective flosser

Your refrigerator can show you how to be a more effective flosser