Some people can instantly feel ready to party just by putting on the right pair of shoes or swiping on a bold red lipstick. Me? I've always found flossing to be a dependable pick-me-up.
If I'm having a bad day, or feeling gross, or if the look that I'm going for just isn't working, I pull out the dental floss. Something about the ritual both chills me out and makes me feel put together; there are few things more satisfying than knowing that my teeth are clean, healthy, and looking good.
You've probably been lectured by your dentist about the benefits of flossing. The American Dental Association recommends flossing once a day to remove plaque and bacteria that brushing misses and to help prevent gum disease. But, as an appeal to the vain among us, please be advised that flossing can impact the look of your smile, too.
"Flossing leads to healthy gums, and healthy gum tissue is pink, as opposed to gum tissue that may have periodontal disease or gingivitis that's red or purple," says Dr. Matthew Messina, consumer advisor to the ADA. The daily ritual can also help stave off bad breath.
"There are few things more satisfying than knowing that your teeth are clean, healthy, and looking good."
If you're not a flossing maniac like me, it can seem like a tedious chore that's often awkward, messy, and painful. Dr. Messina recommends starting small when incorporating flossing into your routine. "It can feel a little clumsy the first time you floss, but if you try to commit to flossing once a day for four or five days a week, you'll find that it's pretty easy," he says. "You can get your mouth fully flossed in a minute to a minute and a half."
Refresher: How to Do It
If you're using traditional dental floss, start with about 18 inches and wind the thread around your two index fingers. Hold the floss tightly, and gently rub it between two teeth. Be sure to guide it into the space between the gum and tooth (go slowly, especially at the beginning, to avoid bleeding). Rub the side of the tooth in an up and down motion then repeat on each tooth.
"If you try to commit to flossing once a day for four or five days a week, you'll find that it's pretty easy."
The type of flossing method that's best for you could depend on things such as gum sensitivity and the amount of space between your teeth—so feel free to make adjustments based on your needs.
Of course, technology is a beautiful thing, and there are alternatives to jimmying a piece of thread between your teeth. Even traditional floss now comes in a variety of flavors and styles.
See our favorite unorthodox (yet helpful!) flossing tools below.
Make It Fun
This friendly-looking fella comes with 38 yards of mint-flavored floss—and it's refillable, so you can eventually replace what comes standard with your own favorite floss.
Get A Daily Reminder
This device sticks to your mirror and dispenses the recommended 18 inches of thread you'll need every day. But don't think you're getting off that easily—if you skip the daily ritual, the all-knowing machine will show a lit-up frowny face. Avoid the frown and floss!
Get a Little Fancy
Launched by two sisters (one a dentist, one an artist), Cocofloss is thick and lush—which provides a deeper clean—and comes in subtle fruit-inspired flavors including Strawberry and Cara Cara Orange. They also offer a subscription service, which means you'll never run out of the good stuff.
Have a Good Taste Test
There are an astonishing number of novelty floss flavors on the market—from pickle to bacon—but this one replicates the taste of a cupcake without containing any actual enamel-destroying sugar. Sold!
One of the most annoying things about flossing is trying to get your hands deep enough into your mouth so that you can clean your molars. This refillable tool helps you floss the hard-to-reach places with ease.
If you're sick of using string altogether, consider this alternative. Yes, it looks like a big toothpick, but it's made out of flexible wood, which means it won't splinter if pushed too hard. It's also specially designed to massage gums and stimulate blood flow.
Go High Tech
Are you looking to really step up your dental game? This futuristic contraption shoots a stream of pressurized water between your teeth, forcing plaque out without the risk of any accidental jabbing pain.
Did we convince you that flossing is awesome (or, OK, tolerable)? Then share this guide with your friends, too!