Another option is to forgo floss and clean between teeth using disposable toothpick-like dental stimulators (Stim-U-Dents, Soft-Picks, and so on); narrow spiral brushes (interproximal brushes); or the conical rubber nubs (tip stimulators) found at the end of many toothbrushes or mounted on their own handles.
Excuse #4: I don’t have time to floss.
Effective flossing does take a while -- once a day for a “good 3 to 5 minutes” according to Low. But even 60 seconds of flossing is of enormous benefit. As with exercise, bathing, and other daily activities, the key is to make flossing a habit.
“If you make time for your personal hygiene, you can find time to make for flossing,” says Maria Lopez Howell, DDS, a dentist in private practice in San Antonio.
She recommends keeping floss in plain view, alongside your toothbrush and toothpaste. If you’re too tired to floss before bed, floss in the morning or afternoon. Or keep floss on hand, and use it when you find the time.
Mark S. Wolff, DDS, PhD, chairman of the department of cardiology and preventive medicine at New York University School of Dentistry in New York City, keeps a stash of dental stimulators in his car. “I use them when I am stuck in traffic,” he says.
Excuse #5: It hurts when I floss.
If flossing causes gum pain or bleeding, odds are you have gingivitis or gum disease -- precisely the conditions for which flossing is beneficial.
“Flossing should not be a painful experience,” Wolff says. “But stopping flossing because of bleeding [or pain] is just the opposite of what you should be doing.” The good news? With daily brushing, flossing, and rinsing, gum pain and bleeding should stop within a week or two. If either persists, see a dentist.
Excuse #6: My teeth are spaced too close together to floss.
If unwaxed floss doesn’t work for your teeth, you might try waxed floss or floss made of super-slippery polytetrafluoroethylene.
If the spacing between your teeth varies (or if you have significant gum recession), yarn-like “superfloss” may be a good bet. It stretches thin for narrow spaces and fluffs out to clean between teeth that are more widely spaced.
If you’re having trouble finding a workable floss or interdental cleaner on your own, your dentist should be able to offer guidance -- and may even offer free samples.
Excuse #7: The floss keeps shredding.
In many cases, broken or fraying floss is caused by a cavity or a problem with dental work -- often a broken or poorly fabricated filling or crown. Consult your dentist.
Excuse #8: I have dental work that makes flossing impossible.
Try floss threaders. These monofilament loops make it easy to position floss around dental work.