Remember when you were in middle school history class and your incredibly boring and ancient teacher berated you in front of the whole class for forgetting to do your homework? First came that wave of humiliation and utter embarrassment, then came the guilt. Maybe you even sat there with hot tears welling up in your eyes. You took it. You nodded and cracked out a “yes sir” with a quiver in your voice. Later that day, you’re walking home with your friends and recount how Mr. Eichenberry (more like Eichenboring, am I right??) made you feel. Your friends are good friends and they have your back. You’ve all known each other since, like, 2nd grade. They pipe up, lighting a fire under your tiny tush. All of a sudden you’re coming up with all of these monster comebacks–all of these things that you should have said. “Yeah, I forgot my homework! So what?” “Not like I’m ever gonna use this anyway!” In this fantasy, you’re such a smart aleck, you’re cool, maybe you’re even lighting up a cigarette as you lean back in your chair with an air of seventh grade smugness.
You recounted every scenario of how you could have turned the situation around and made it a moment that your dorky little classmates would remember. But you didn’t. You were too late to the game. That’s kind of how we feel about the New York Times’ post that came out a few weeks ago about flossing.
On August 2nd, my Facebook feed exploded with this article. People (who I thought were my friends) were rejoicing that flossing was a sham. The gist of the article was this:
The latest dietary guidelines for Americans, issued by the Departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services, quietly dropped any mention of flossing without notice. This week, The Associated Press reported that officials had never researched the effectiveness of regular flossing, as required, before cajoling Americans to do it.
Well you know what? Yeah, We’re late to the game but we have something to say to this:
1. Floss is to the mouth what toilet paper is to the bum. If you’re not getting the crevices, you’re not doing a good job. Have you ever flossed and smelled the floss immediately afterward? It smells like death. And that, my friends, is bacteria that likes to feed on other goodies that get caught in there. You can develop tooth decay/gum pockets/loss of friends and loved ones due to “stanky breath syndrome”.
2. Flossing helps prevent decay and can help manage periodontal disease. Here’s some science. There’s an old saying in the dental field: Floss only the teeth you want to keep.
3. It just feels good. Once you get on a regular schedule and get past the bloodbath in your sink, it will start to feel like a mini massage that you can treat yourself to every single day.
A large part of the whole anti-floss movement comes from studies that show flossing to be ineffective at reducing plaque. Well sure, If you’re not flossing correctly, of course it won’t do anything (back to the toilet paper scenario, technique is everything). Take that floss down as far as it will go. Make a c-shape and really curve it around the base of every tooth. Your future self will thank you for not having yuck mouth!
Take that, NYT.