Floss each day for a year

April 20, 2008: Accomplished: Floss each day for a year

After receiving the bad news about three cavities last year, I figured a practical goal for myself would be to floss each day for a year. Seeing as I had probably never flossed for more than a few days in a row, this one was going to be challenging.

Because I'm a bit OCD, I wanted to make sure I didn't miss any days... and that's tougher than it sounds. Take for example camping trips. If you forget to pack your floss, you're done! So yes, there I was in the middle of Algonquin, flossing away. Which sounds ridiculous, but it's actually quite nice to have squeaky clean teeth at the end of a long day of canoe camping!

Another strategy was to always floss in the morning. That way, if for some reason I forgot to do it in the morning, I'd be able to do it before bed. Logistics, logistics. It reminded me of planning redundant business processes. ie. How do you plan daily or weekly activities if you need to be absolutely sure that they're going to happen?

In terms of my dental health, I'm happy with the results. Once I been flossing each day for a couple of months, I noticed that I had less plaque build up between my teeth, which made them look and feel healthier. And my next dental checkup was the best one I've ever had.

My second yearly dental checkup wasn't quite as good, and I think that's because I wasn't flossing at night as much. Here's a summary of what I've learned:

1.You should floss at least once each day, preferably twice.
2.If you're only going to floss once a day, the key time to do it is just before bed. (Think about it: Your gums are sitting there for 8 hours with whatever junk is in between your teeth)
3.Electric tooth brushes are superior to regular ones.
4.Electric tooth brushes are more effective if you follow the 2-minute guideline once a day. Again, the best time to do your 2-minute brushing is right before bed.
5.Pharmacies sell an Oral B fluoride mouth rinse that you can use once a week. My dentist claims that this can help repair damaged enamel.
6.Don't use Listerine. It tends to try your gums out. My dental hygienist says that people who use Listerine twice a day have gums that resemble those of smokers.
7.Teeth whiteners that you can buy at the store for $20-$40 work reasonably well. I followed the directions on the package and it made a noticeable difference. (My dental hygienist tells me that spending the big bucks to get this done professionally isn't worth it)

So there you  have it. If you follow the above I think you'll get good results... but another thing I've learned is that genetics play a pretty significant role. If you're genes gave you cavity-prone teeth, even good habits might not be enough to save you. On the other hand, people with good genes can get away with less than stellar habits. Such is life!

February 23, 2008

Wow, these "do something each day for a year" goals take a lot of subconscious mental effort. If you miss a day, then you're sort of short of your goal, right? It also means being a little silly at times, like standing on a rock in Algonquin... flossing... great!

Just under two months left to go... and hey, the teeth look and feel great. I guess dentists don't nag you for nothing.

April 20, 2007

The two newest addition to the list are "Floss each day for a year", and, with Earth Day close by, "3 minute showers for a year". After having three cavities this year it's probably a good idea to get in the habit of flossing... like most people, I probably average once or twice a week at best.