Why I Started Flossing Daily for the First Time at Age 34

I’m 34 and I’ve never been a flosser.

I remember one period of my life that I didn’t even go to the dentist for three or four years, and they measured the gaps between my gums and teeth. I wasn’t flossing daily, and I had “6s.” That means the little pick went 6 millimeters deep. My gums were a Mardi Gras of bacteria. The main reason why?

I hated flossing.

Floss (verb): To cut the circulation off in your fingers for a few minutes to awkwardly slide a string between your teeth that makes you bleed.

With my permanent top and bottom retainer, I was supposed to get special threaders so that I could get the floss into the space between my retainer and gum line. Uh, no. Ain’t nobody got the time and patience for dat.

Then I tried the Water Pik. It was a little bit better.

The water pik was at least tolerable. It’s a powerful stream of water that gets debris out from between your teeth. The only problem is, of course, that if you use it anywhere but the shower, your mirror will get soaked and your bathroom may flood. Naturally, you can actually cut your mouth with the stream if you’re not careful with your power settings and aim. And finally, you have to manage the water reservoir and not let green and blue stuff grow in it.

I had bought two water piks in my lifetime, and used them less than 50 times total.

Look, I’m not trying to pretend like I’m normal. I understand these things are supposed to be “easy enough” for grown adults and most children. But I took 6 years to finish college, not because school was difficult for me, but because… well… I thought it was best to take the least amount of credit hours possible so that I could play Halo 3.

The Dentists’ Plea: Start Flossing Daily

Despite my incredible ability to avoid flossing for my entire life—I think I flossed less than 20 times before I turned 30—my dentists thought they could change me. 

“You really need to start flossing daily.”

~ Every Dentist, Every Time

Early on, I would pretend to be interested, as if I was just hearing about the greatness of flossing daily for the first time. Later, I would flat out tell them that I wasn’t going to floss; it was similar to how I deal with a telemarketers. “Sorry, I’m not interested.”

I decided I would just get frequent teeth cleanings. But were they enough?

The Dentist That Changed Everything

On my most recent dentist visit, she told me in a matter of fact way that once gums recede due to bacteria, they don’t grow back. I think I had heard of this before, but this time, she made it sound really scary and pointed at me. That “long in the tooth” saying never felt so real.

Combined with that scare, my hygienist happened to be an amazing flosser, and it felt more like a massage than a gum massacre. I was more interested to floss than ever before, but I wasn’t quite “there” yet because I still hated the process. I resolved to try the water pik again, but I wasn’t happy about it.

The Product That Changed Everything

While browsing on Amazon, I came across this: GUM Soft-Picks Original Dental Picks

These are dental picks, basically rubber toothpicks with flexible bristles attached to them. And, in the description, it says it’s “just as effective as dental floss in removing plaque but much easier and more convenient.” Yes. YES. The reviews were good too, so I bought them.

I’ve been flossing daily… or “picking” ever since.

When I first used them, I bled, just like I would with flossing. That’s because my gums weren’t healthy. Now, my gums don’t bleed anymore. It turns out, when you clean your teeth and gums and don’t let food rot beside them, they heal!

I started using these every night because I enjoyed it. There are certain spots in my teeth where food always gets stuck. These always get it out, and it’s satisfying! My mouth has been much cleaner and healthier ever since. I look forward to my next dentist visit, as I can finally brag about my dental routine and score better on the gum test.

Are Dental Picks As Good As Flossing?

In my unprofessional opinion, dental picks are better overall. But as for if they are more effective, one study found that they are “at least as effective” as regular flossing. That’s good enough for me. Here are the reasons why I like them more.

  1. They don’t cut your gums. A lot of people use a “sawing motion” when flossing that can hurt their gums.
  2. They are bigger than floss strings, and in my experience, that helps them to fill the whole gap between teeth and get rid of food particles. 
  3. They massage the gums. They feel good! Traditional flossing has never felt good or massage-like to me, except by that one hygienist, who was probably the world’s best flosser.
  4. They don’t make the tips of my fingers turn purple. I would always forget about how tightly the string was around my fingers.
  5. I’ll actually use them because they are easier and more satisfying to use!

Point #5 is the big one. They are better than doing nothing, and for me, doing nothing is more likely than traditional flossing. 

To inconsistent or non-flossers like me, this is a game-changer. I had never really heard about the dental pick option, so I’m doing my part to spread the word. The best part about this to me is that I haven’t needed to try to build this good habit, because I truly enjoy using the picks every night!

If you already floss daily, then you’re probably set. But if you don’t floss every night, give these a try and that might change: GUM Soft-Picks Original Dental Picks

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