The importance of flossing

I just went to the dentist (no cavities! yay!) the other day, and it got me thinking about flossing again. I originally wrote down some thoughts about flossing a few months back, and I decided now would be a good time to write a little blog entry about flossing…

Imagine brushing only some of your teeth? Say you only brushed your front teeth and didn’t brush the back ones. Or how about just brushing the teeth on the left side of your mouth, and leaving those on the right? Disgusting, isn’t it? How often do you floss? If you aren’t flossing, you aren’t really cleaning all of your teeth…

Image of a sticker I found on the back of a chair.

As part of a full tooth-care plan, dentists recommend brushing and flossing daily. Most of us brush every night before bed. And a lot of us even brush when we get up in the morning (although my teeth *should* be clean, I mean I just cleaned them before going to bed. I guess there’s that little thing called ‘morning breath’, but that’s a whole other story…). But how many of us actually floss? Every day? I asked around and found that many of my friends actually do not floss on a daily basis. Some don’t even floss at all! (I’d really like to name names, but then Chris would get mad). Now I’ll admit, I don’t floss every day, but I do like to look after my amazing physique and my health, so I do try to floss as often as I can. On average, I’d say I floss 3 to 4 times a week, which isn’t great, but isn’t that bad, either… Since going to the dentist the other day, I’ve decided to start flossing on a daily basis.

Somewhere while surfing the web, I stumbled across a factoid stating that brushing only effectively cleans about 60% of the tooth above the gumline. Toothbrushes just can’t clean every single little nook and cranny of every tooth. Even those fancy toothbrushes aren’t capable of cleaning out the tiny spaces between every tooth. That’s where flossing comes in. The use of dental floss allows us to clean that extra 40% of the tooth surface where food particles can hide. Thinking about it, if you brush but do not floss, you are only cleaning 60% of your teeth. That means 40% of your teeth are never clean!

I was a little intrigued about the value of 60% given, and I briefly considered doing some more research to see just how much of the tooth is missed when brushing alone. Then I realized how much work that would be, and I just did a little more research. Most of the stuff I saw stated brushing alone will clean 60-75% of your teeth. Even if we are cleaning as much as 75% or even higher, the fact that we are not cleaning a significant portion of our teeth is disconcerting.

Flossing is not a difficult thing to do, but it is very beneficial, primarily that it greatly reduces the chance of developing gum disease. Also, oftentimes tooth decay originates in between teeth, and only flossing will adequately clean these areas. There have also been studies conducted that link poor gum health with heart disease, diabetes, respiratory disease and infections.

While doing my casual survey among family members and friends, I also asked if they flossed before or after brushing. I have always flossed after brushing, as I assumed you would brush everything out, and then use floss to get in the spaces where the toothbrush can’t. My brother and I always debated about it and after doing some research, I found that it actually is recommended to floss before brushing your teeth. Flossing before brushing seems to help loosen crud from between teeth, so it can be easily brushed away.

So honestly… try to start flossing. Even if you don’t remember to do it every day, do it a few times a week. It doesn’t take too much time, and it’s pretty easy to make it a part of your nightly routine.

For more information about flossing technique and practice, see these fine links below:

13 thoughts on “The importance of flossing

  1. This was overall the worst reading I have ever done.

    First of all.. its phlossing…. how dumb do you have to be? I have never heard of anyone making up so much nonesense in the history of Budha… Where did you get these facts??… I think you need to find a dentist that isn’t living in a box in downtown Oshawa. This guy is stealing your money man…

    Your percentages were way off… that 40% is actually 2%. And thats a 2% that your not SUPPOSE to clean. It’s meant to grow a special fungus. When the fungus reaches the clean part of your teeth the left over paste “Toothpaste” kills the fungus and it falls off where you then swallow the fungus. Then… that dirty part of the tooth is actually the cleanest part of your teeth. Recleaning everyday… Naturally.

    You should try to talk to a dentist that has a diploma. That’s the first thing I look for in a dentist.

    Good luck with that!

  2. Haha…wow rob….that’s pretty uhhhh amazing that you put that much work into that….geez lol….

  3. Thanks Rob.
    I have started flossing every night. I am now one step closer to becoming the perfect human being.

  4. hey rob… i was doing a search for relatives and was wondering if you were one of them…. My great great great grandfather was Ernest Maeder born in 1892… he and his wife Barbara had 18 children…. one of their children was Barbara Ann who married my great grandfather william lenhard…

    yeah, its a long time ago and we werent there, but any clues?


  5. Here are some replies to the thoughtful comments left by my readers.

    Sandra: you are absolutely correct. I don’t know what I was thinking. I will stop making stuff up to sound intelligent. Perhaps you can proofread my blog entries before I make a fool of myself even more.

    Dani: shut up

    Dave: good boy. Being the perfect human being will revolutionize your life in ways you’ve never dreamed of. Trust me.

    Laura: I sent you an email… I’m still awaiting a reply.

    Steve: Fuck you. The floss will rip apart under the stress of my huge muscular neck, ruining your plans of strangling me.


    I myself only like to floss my top teeth and bottom molars. My bottom fronts have a retainer and i hate using threaders cuz then my fingers have to pretend like they’re froma circus and do all these acrobatics in my mouth… yeah u’ll only understand if u have a retainer…

    okay peace out mofo


  7. Okay i am doing a project on flossing in my dental hygiene program and oddly enough your blog came up. And low and behold since im procrastinating doing my assignment, I read your blog about flossing, and the commetns thier after. First of all, congradualtion on flossing daily, its the best thing for your health! I should know, Im in school for this stuff (at least i should know). I hope your firend sandra was joking because that is the stupidest thing i have ever heard! I am going to tell myself shes joking, it makes me feel better. Oh and by the way if you really want an overall mouth clean, make sure you are brushign properly (ie. read up on the Bass technique), brush your tongue or use a tongue scrapper, and your palate. As well you might want to try using colgate total it has an antibacterial agent in its toothpaste.

  8. i think flossing should be a part of our daily hygiene because it helps our gum healthy. i floss twice a day after meals and i think it has beneficial effects.other than that, i am a dental assistant so i have seen the worst set of teeth and the ugliest gums in the world. mind you but floosing is very good for your health. it’s like giving a facial to your gums or gingiva. brushing alone doesn’t clean at all. flosssing helps eliminate bad breath or halitosis.

  9. Rob

    Go back to brushing first:


    Brush before flossing
    Periodontists are about equally divided on whether you should floss before brushing or brush before flossing. Taking into consideration that flossing may carry bacteria and food particles below the gum line, it is probably better to brush first to reduce the food particles, bacteria, and foreign matter that can be transferred below the gum line by the floss. The argument for flossing before brushing is based on the idea that the fluoride in toothpaste can only strengthen teeth by coming in direct contact with the enamel. Removing the plaque by flossing can expose the enamel to the beneficial effect of the fluoride in toothpaste.

  10. Thanks for your honest effort to encourage flossing. My 18-year-old daughter just got a dental exam and was told she had no cavities (just like you). I was shocked when she told me she only flosses when she thinks she really needs to. Knowing how importance it is to floss, I tried to tell her, but she just argued.

    Hopefully, she will read your website that I e-mailed to her, and come to her senses. Her younger sister looks to her as an example so it would benefit her as well.

    Thanks again.


  11. Dear Rob,
    I am a Registered Dental Hygienist and found your “research” intriguing while I found some of the comments to your article absurd and vulgar,(not your fault! It’s a free country.)To some of those who contributed comments, I say: 1) NO! It IS F-L-O-S-S-I-N-G. 2)To others, I would encourage them to review the American Dental and the American Dental Hygiene Associations for credible information that supports most of your findings. 3)The OVERWHELMING body of credible research evidence shows that flossing daily, as in at least once in a twenty-four hour time period, can lower your risk of heart disease, periodontal disease, bad breath, and primilinary researchs is indicating connections with systemic inflamation, diabetes, and infertility. Flossing is well worth 2 -3 minutes of a rational person’s day and is a very cost-effective way of preventing disease.

  12. Dear Rob,
    I am a Registeren Dental Hygienist and was intriqued by your “research”. I would like to address some of those who have contributed comments
    1) NO-it IS F-L-O-S-S-I-N-G.
    2) I would suggest reivew the massive credible literature available through the American Dental and the American Dental Hygiene Associations that support most of what you reported.
    3)Flosing at least once in a 24 hour time period has convincingly been shown to help preventcavities between teeth, periodontal disease, heart disease, and is associated with lessening the risks of diabetes, systemic inflamation, and early research is showing a correlation with infertility. For most rational people, this cost-effective method of disease prevention is well work 2-3 minutes max of any person’s day. Children should also be flossed daily to establish lifelong healthy oral habits.
    Peace and Good Health to you and your readers.

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