Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Trouble With Flossing

Lest you think I’m going to write some sort of scathing diatribe about flossing, let me just say right off the bat that as a two-time root canal recipient (one very painful the other not so much) that I am a flossing convert. I wasn’t always this way, but I have seen the light…and have been hit in my pocket book twice with major dental bills, which tends to motivate one to start flossing in order to save ones teeth.

Having said all of that…

There are some troubling things about flossing that I would like to discuss here. First and foremost, it hurts…and it hurts badly. There’s nothing fun about jamming some mint-flavored wax string in between all your teeth. Sorry. Not only does it hurt, but it often leads to the occasional bleed, and even some swelling of the gums. This is an issue for me because once my gum swells, it feels like there is still something stuck in there and then I pick and I jab and I floss floss floss until there’s a real problem!

Second, the only thing flossing really does is that it allows more stuff to get stuck in there…and when that happens it’s like your whole world shuts down. I remember distinctly a few weeks ago flossing with a floss pick (my flossing choice) and having some popcorn a few minutes later. On the first bite of popcorn, BAM, right in the gap between my two front teeth, it was like someone had driven a Cadillac into my teeth. Not fun. I prefer my teeth to be like a maximum security prison…nothing gets in, nothing gets out.

Third, it is a constant battle of convenience. If you are a regular flosser, you know what I’m talking about here. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack time, it all gets stuck…and at the most inconvenient times, and if you’re anything like me, you MUST get it out! But, what if you don’t have floss? You improvise.

Here’s a list of things I’ve attempted to floss with in my life:
• Floss
• A tooth pick
• A floss picker
• A fork
• A business card
• An envelope
• My finger/finger nail
• A pin (push, or otherwise)
• A tooth brush
• Anything with a sturdy edge (within reason)
• A Car Key

After all this effort, floss still isn’t going to get that salad fragment out of your teeth, or worse yet, that golden shard that comes of when you eat popcorn. In fact, I had one stay in my mouth for over a week because it was jammed in so well and my flossing efforts were useless against its stick-to-itiveness to my gums. Finally, I got it with a plastic fork.

So there you have it, the art of the floss and all the challenges and problems that comes with it. If you’re going to floss, and I recommend you do (were I a dentist, 9 out of 10 of me would recommend it…and one would rebel), you might as well make it worth it…and try this:


  1. Dude, a straw is a crucial dental tool. To keep crap out of my teeth in a pinch, I gnaw on one of the open ends of the straw, creating a flat edge. Then I go diggin! The wife really loves when I do this--especially in public. It works though!

  2. One glaring omission from your flossing rant: having to clean the bathroom mirror every damn night.