How to Look Forward to Flossing

A woman flossing her teeth

Flossing. Ugh. We know it's important to avoid gingivitis and cavities between our teeth, but it's such an easy task to let fall to the wayside when we're tired. And let's be honest: getting in bed sounds so much better than standing in the bathroom running a waxed thread back and forth between each tooth.

Re-frame Your Thoughts About Flossing

But what if flossing were the highlight of your bedtime routine? Instead of thinking of flossing as one more thing to get done before sleeping, flossing can be a time you set aside to take care of your whole self. In practice, rushing through toothbrushing and hustling into bed isn't sleep — or peace — inducing. When we incorporate meditation into our flossing routine, we can soothe our minds while we boost our oral health.

Why Flossing?

Let's face it: We skip flossing because it's boring. Adding meditation makes it a pleasant experience with double the benefits. But the nature of flossing — repetitive movements that don't require active thought — lends itself well to practicing meditation. It's also something that, like mediation, works best when done on a daily basis.

Why Mediation?

Meditation is free, not hard to learn, and can make your life better. We're not kidding. Among other benefits, meditating is thought to help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, relieve insomnia, manage depression and anxiety, and generally contribute to a better quality of life. It can even contribute to falling asleep faster and having more compassion for others.

How to Get Started

1. Set the Scene

To get started, make yourself comfortable by getting in your jammies. Put on music you find soothing or white noise, if that helps you unplug your brain a bit. Dim the lights in your bathroom (you can always turn off any bright overhead lights and light a candle to have enough light to maneuver), and get out your floss.

2. Start Small

Beginning to meditate can be difficult. You can try a guided meditation if you like. Or you could start with a very simple technique: Pay attention to the sensations of taking three breaths. There's no gold star in meditation, and no wrong way to meditate.

3. Relax

There are many types of meditation, but to begin reaping the benefits of meditation, you can simply turn your attention inward. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgement or analysis. Practice focusing on the sensation of air on your skin, on what you can hear, or on what you can see. How does the floss feel in your fingers? How does your face feel as you hold your mouth open? Let your thoughts come and go as they wish.

4. Repeat

In both flossing and meditation it's important to be gentle and to keep at it. It will feel weird the first time you do it. You can course correct, trying out different mindfulness techniques until you find a style that you enjoy. It might be uncomfortable to sit with your thoughts. You may feel a little silly. But give try meditating during flossing for a week and see how you feel.

 

This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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How to FLOSS

  1. Pull 18 to 24 inches of dental floss from the floss dispenser.

  2. Wrap the ends of the floss around your index and middle fingers.

  3. Hold the floss tightly around each tooth in a C shape; move the floss back and forth in a push-pull motion and up and down against the side of each tooth.

How to BRUSH

  1. Place the toothbrush at a 45°angle along the gum line. Move the toothbrush in a back and forth motion, and repeat for each tooth.

  2. Brush the inside surface of each tooth, using the same back and forth technique.

  3. Brush the chewing surface (top) of each tooth.

  4. Use tip of brush to brush behind each tooth — front and back, top and bottom and up and down strokes.

  5. Be sure to brush your tongue to remove odor-causing bacteria.