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How about Flossing as a New Year’s Resolution?

New Year’s resolutions often include vows to improve our diet or promises that we will begin exercising daily. Both of which are great (and should be encouraged) goals, but what if we started the New Year with something more basic?

When is the last time that you evaluated your daily dental care routine?  I am guessing it includes brushing your teeth, but what about flossing? Can you remember that the last time you pulled that waxy threading through your teeth?

The American Dental Association recommends flossing once a day. However, a survey from the Association reported that only 4 out of 10 adults floss on a daily basis and a whopping 20 percent of adults report never flossing.2

“Why is flossing so important?”

What if in 2017 you resolve to floss your teeth daily? You might be thinking, “what’s the big deal?” Or “Why is flossing so important?”

Flossing (along with brushing) helps remove plaque (a filmy bacteria) between your teeth. The bacteria in plaque can build up causing gum disease and tooth decay, both of which can be painful, result in tooth loss, chewing problems and, very costly.

According to an article from US Endocrinology, periodontal (gum) disease and dental caries (cavities) are the two most common oral diseases. While that information may not come as a surprise; did you know that there is an increased prevalence of periodontal disease in patients with diabetes? 1

This article goes on to explain, that diabetes is the only systemic disease that is a recognized risk factor for gum disease. Periodontal disease not only has a negative impact on glycemic control but can also be a risk factor for developing diabetes complications, such as nephropathy and cardiovascular disease.1

Studies have indicated, individuals with diabetes do not have the same access to dental care as those without diabetes. In addition, there is a lack of awareness about the connection between oral health and diabetes.

The International Diabetes Federation has developed oral health guidelines for individuals with diabetes. The specific guidelines can be found at: Oral Health for People With Diabetes.

Oral Self-Care

Health care providers are encouraged to ask their patients annually if they follow the recommended guidelines for oral self-care and follow up with a dental professional at regular intervals.

The American Dental Association recommends the following oral self-care:3

  • Brush teeth twice daily using a soft bristle brush and a fluoride toothpaste
  • Replace toothbrush every 3 to 4 months
  • Use proper tooth brushing technique
    • For more information, see this video from the American Dental Association.
  • Clean between teeth daily with floss
    • For more information on how to properly floss, see this video from the American Dental Association:
  • Keep up with regular dental visits (your dentist will determine how frequently you should be seen for exams/cleanings)

A few other important things to remember:

  • Make sure to contact your dentist if you notice that your gums have become swollen, red, tender or bleed when you floss or brush your teeth.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

  1. Lamster IB. Diabetes and Oral Health-Current Concepts Regarding Periodontal Disease and Dental Carries, US Endocrinology, 2012, 8(2):93-97. DOI:
  2. Top stories. (2016). Retrieved December 29, 2016, from MouthHealthy,
  3. Staff, M. C. (2016). Adult health oral health: Brush up on dental care basics. Mayoclinic. Retrieved from