Flossing, Yes! Flossing Using Your Hair, No.

How do you remove food stuck between your teeth? Dental floss? Great. Folded paper or strands of hair? Not the best idea.

While it may not be a good idea, the use of these types of unusual items to remove food is common. According to recent U.S. survey, adults attempted to remove food from between their teeth using fingernails (61%), folded paper or cards (40%), cutlery such as a fork, knife, or spoon (21%), safety pins (14%) or strands of hair (7%).

The survey was conducted on behalf of Waterpik and in consultation with the American Dental Association (ADA). A separate ADA member survey found similarly unusual items being used to remove food from between teeth, including twigs, toenails, matchbooks, loose electrical wires, screwdrivers and pocket knives.

Of course, 63% of those surveyed also admit they know better than to use these objects to remove food stuck in their teeth. Moreover, 42% say they’ve felt pain as a result of using one of these unusual items. What should they use instead? Dental picks, floss or water flossing tools.

The need to remove food from between teeth using something other than a brush is real, as there is much surface that a brush cannot reach. Leaving food between your teeth can cause plaque build-up that, in turn, can lead to cavities, gum sensitivity, and bad breath.

While the American Dental Association recommends cleaning between your teeth daily, only 16% of adults surveyed report they always floss once or more per day. 20% say they only floss when they need to, and 8% say they never floss. 12% floss 4-5 times a week, while 27% report flossing anywhere from 1-3 times a week.

Why don’t people floss more often? 55% say they don’t floss because it is too time-consuming. Another 16% find flossing painful so they avoid it. 9% don’t floss as often because they find it gross. 36% mention some other reason, with top mentions including expense, forgetfulness, and laziness.

With that in mind, how do Americans describe their flossing habits to a dental professional? 44% admit that they have exaggerated to their dentist about how much they floss.

While dental implants don’t decay like natural teeth, flossing is still important because it helps to reduce the chances of gum sensitivity and bad breath. To learn more about how to best take care of your dental implants and surrounding teeth, talk to an AAID credentialed implant dentist.

Find a dental implant dentist near you using the free locator at www.aaid-implant.org.

American Academy of Implant Dentistry