Double up the dental floss

Double up the dental floss

This week I kicked off my Tuesday with an hour at the dentist. (I know, I know, you’re tired of all the best stories you read starting exactly this way.)

I love my hygienist, and have been with her for a long time. She knows I love her, because I’ve sent a ton of people her way. If my dentist had a referral program, I’d have free toothbrushes and tooth scrapings coming out my ears. (That’s the last time I’ll use the word scrape, I promise.)

When I got there on Tuesday, she asked if I had any issues with my teeth. Just the same old ones, I told her. (Because I know you’re dying of curiosity here, the issues go back to me having braces as a kid. I had them put on when I was in third grade, and taken off when I was in sixth. This was awesome in many ways. But as a third grader, I didn’t do a terrific job of using my floss threaders and scrubbing around my brackets, and you probably can’t tell but my hygienist and I can. That’s probably too much information.)

My hygienist listened and nodded, and then we were ready to get started. She reached for her roll of dental floss and unspooled the single longest piece I’ve ever seen, not counting the time when I found one of the kids delightfully unraveling a new roll on the bathroom floor. I was a little scared, and asked if my teeth were really that bad.

What, this? she said. This is normal. Nobody likes to floss, and that includes me, and I learned a long time ago that a loooooong piece of dental floss makes the job easier. 

Reader, I don’t think “stingy” is a key character trait for me, but I am stingy with my dental floss. I treat it like a game I’m trying to win, a precious commodity I’m hoarding—how little can I get by with today? And guess what: I hate flossing. It’s awkward and a little gross. But I never noticed the obvious: that dreaded task would be easier if I unspooled an extra six inches. It might be a whole lot easier if I used an extra twelve like my hygienist.

Of course I wanted to explain all this to her, but that’s a little hard to do when you’re the one in the chair with the tools in your mouth. (I’m amazed at how much she can understand me when I tell her things in dentist-speak, but my quantity of words is limited!)

And so I’m telling you instead: it’s not hard to unroll some extra floss. It costs almost nothing—I mean, I just bought a hundred-yard roll at the grocery store for a dollar. Why have I not been making this dreaded job easier the whole time?

Readers, I’d love to hear: don’t feel compelled to tell me the intimate details of your oral hygiene routine, but do YOU use a lavish length of dental floss? And here’s what I REALLY want to know: what simple tips and tricks have made the hard things in your life easier, in practice or in attitude? Dental floss is my example today, but I’m sure you have dozens of similar tidbits to share. Tell us about them in comments?

133 comments | Comment


  1. Susan says:

    Oral B electric toothbrush which gets into everywhere and reduces plaque buildup especially behind the teeth where an ordinary toothbrush can’t get to, plus, a lavish length of Oral B dental floss

  2. Jennifer says:

    I use the floss picks – they cost a little more but they take flossing from a dreaded task to no big deal for me, so it’s totally worth it!

    • MaryC says:

      What she said up there ^^^ about floss picks.
      The other thing is that I floss in the morning after my shower instead of at night when I’m just looking to fall into bed. It took about 6 weeks to become a routine like they say about new habits. It’s just a mon-fri habit, all bets are off on weekends. My hygienist says she can tell the difference! (She also said that she and her hubby keep the floss in the shower to make it a daily habit. As long as you don’t wash the floss down the drain, you’re ok.)

  3. Natasha says:

    Yes, I use a super-long floss string 🙂 Still really dislike flossing and hate it even more when others (ie, husband) are flossing their teeth – it’s the sound that drives me bonkers.

    With other things, zen-like mindfulness helps me to get through dreaded tasks. I sort of get into the mindframe of appreciating every dish I have to wash and every piece of laundry I have to fold and really try to be happy in the process. (OK – that sounded really preachy – sorry – but amazing how not hating certain chores actually makes them easier). If I am not in a mood for zen but annoying stuff still needs to be done – a little of TV or podcasts help.

    When I was a kid, I used to pretend that I was competing against others in an Olympics-like event (complete with hyper commentators) for the best-cleaned room, fastest time to clean up dishes, or whatever other chores my parents dreamed up for me 🙂 I always won, too 🙂

  4. Debbie says:

    Dental stuff: Amazon sells a cheap SoniCare toothbrush. Like $20 cheap! I also use the floss stick things.
    Other stuff: I bought a $9 phone stand (Amazon again. They sponsor my life!) for my desk at school (4th grade teacher). No more searching under piles for my phone to set a timer. Plus then I bought an extra phone cord to keep at school and keep it threaded through the hole in the stand. No more forgetting my charger at home and dying because my phone is dying. So simple, but really life changing.

  5. LoriM says:

    Haha, this post made me smile – in each paragraph. 🙂 At first I thought you were going to say to fold the floss over when you floss and my thought was, “Sneaky way for floss sellers to sell more floss.” I guess the same could apply to the extra floss you are recommending here, but it’s true, if it’s easy to hold, it just makes the job easier. Still, flossing is one of MY least favorite things to do, too, so I’m curious how people make it less of a chore (if possible; come on, some things we just have to power through and get them done). I will say my hygienist said she could definitely tell when I STOPPED flossing for a while (why? I can remember) and then when I restarted. It’s one of those simple things that makes a big difference.

    • Debbie says:

      I’ve just recently become obsessed with flossing (thanks Everything Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe’s!) and now I find myself looking at people’s teeth to see if they floss. GROSS! I told my hygienist of my obsession and she laughed and told me it’s normal to her! 🙂 She could definitely see that I’d started doing it.

    • Lily says:

      Honestly the thing that made flossing easier for me was (a) having to pay out-of-pocket for a filling when a cavity between my teeth meant they had to fill both and insurance would only pay for one, and (b) hating novacane so much that I had a filling done without it – and I’ve got to say, the pain in the moment was barely worse than the feeling of the novacane needle in my gum and the taste and feel of my numb lip the rest of the afternoon. But after those two fillings (not my first two by any stretch), I just stuck the floss by my contact case and toothbrush and did it every. single. night. Now I get compliments from my hygenist too 🙂 Once it is an entrenched habit, it doesn’t feel any harder than brushing, though some nights when I’m super tired I do it simply because I know if I skip a night I’m likely to skip forever after. (Well, I do probably skip 2-4 times a year, but seriously, I’m scared to break the habit and have to start all over again!)

  6. Janean says:

    Our family went through a very stressful time and I needed to simplify pretty much everything. I tabled my environmental guilt and prioritized my personal sanity and energy reserves by swapping all of our dishes and glasses for paper products, nearly eliminating dishes for a while. It was a lifesaver. After the crisis passed, we still had lingering issues, so I kept the tiny flimsy paper plates for the 5 million snacks the kids eat and paper plates for lunch. This allows me to clean up breakfast and then the kitchen stays clean the rest of the day until dinner dishes. I also keep a stash of 10oz paper cups for the ongoing drinks of water. We tried water bottles but the kids always lost them. Costco has an enormous bag of paper cups for under $10 and that’s worth it to me to not wash 20 glasses a day. I justify the paper by arguing that I’m supporting peoples jobs at Costco and saving dishwasher energy and water. I consider it an environmental zero sum. Even if it’s not, mama needs to not be crazy.

    • Lily says:

      Ooh, I was a nanny for a while, and I made the kids coasters with a symbol/logo from their favorite story (Thomas the train, the Death Star, etc.) so they would use one glass/cup all day and not keep forgetting which was theirs and getting out a new one whenever they came into the kitchen for a drink. I think you could just laminate a picture or drawing for this, though I did cross stitch with yarn on those plastic mesh/grid things and made it part of their Christmas present.

      • Kimberly says:

        I love this idea. I thought kids leaving them at their place at the table would be enough, but once it’s been on the table (when people have walked away) no one wants to claim it any longer. Maybe I’ll make them little coasters for christmas in their colors (each child has a color in my house, lol).

        • Lisa says:

          What about having your kids each use cups in their colors? Then they can’t say, “I don’t know whose that is!” Plus, in our house the coasters would just get lost or knocked off the table by a cat. (FYI – I love the idea of color coding your kids.)

  7. Amy says:

    I have a problem with too aggressively flossing and over flossing!!! I guess I’m the opposite of a floss hoarder! I DO need something very magical for some serious clenching and TMJ! It’s out of control!! Anyone with good advice??

      • Laura says:

        That’s what I use and it helps! My dentist told me I was grinding my teeth and I wondered when I started doing that. She said it must have been when I had 5 kids 🙂

    • Lisa Z says:

      I saw a specialist about TMJ about 7 years ago, but decided not to go with the expensive night guard, as he was skeptical it would work for me anyway. Honestly, what’s worked for me is seeing a homeopath for a constitutional remedy, and therapy. It was a personality change to be less anxious that really helped me, not a mechanical device. Also, my chiropractor helps with all of the above–tense muscles and a more relaxed self.

      • Amy says:

        I see a chiropractor and she does help. What’s a constitutional remedy? I’ve also tried nightgaurds in the past and I still clench so my dentist is skeptical with other forms?? The whole side of my face is inflammed!

        • Lisa Z says:

          I’m glad the chiro. helps! And gosh, the inflammation sounds not fun! I hope you find some relief.

          As far as a constitutional remedy: seeing a classical homeopath is different from just taking over the counter homeopathic remedies for acute issues, as the homeopath will do an in-depth look at your personality and physical/mental/spiritual/emotional stuff and then give you a remedy that fits your “constitution.” It’s been a life changer for my whole family! (We started seeing the homeopath for our autistic child, because I’d heard it can be helpful with autism.)

    • Becky says:

      I started grinding at night 5 years ago (at which point the dentist made me a standard silicone night guard) which over time led to TMJ and jaw clenching during the daytime. I kept trying things on my own (TMJ exercises, yoga, essential oils, therapy) but the pain and tension got so unbearable I finally saw a TMJ specialist this summer. Wow, why did I wait so long?! (the expense is why, LOL!) The specialist made me a daytime appliance that I wear that helps my jaw relax and it’s provided me so much relief it’s been well worth the $1500. He also made me a new night guard called an NTI. It doesn’t stop bruxism (no night guard does) but it helps stop the damage to the TMJ muscles. I would highly recommend seeing a TMJ specialist.

      • Hope says:

        …And the NTI is small, not a full size mouth guard. Mine is basically the width of my two top front teeth.

  8. Kristin says:

    Agree wholeheartedly with the floss picks being the best option. They changed me from a mediocre flossed to a regular user! I did notice yesterday that I’m missing a few spots so I think I will do twice a day now rather than just at night.

  9. You’re the best, Anne. I’ll spare you my dentist visit details from last week, but let’s just say he’s replacing a filling at cost because the first one isn’t working and dental picks have become my new best friend. My quick tip–and I’m getting a little obsessive honestly–is that I have to have to pack lunches the night before. Lunches aren’t packed you don’t get one bc mornings are hard enough.

  10. This is so funny! My boyfriend is a dentist and my best friend a dental assistant, and she instructs people to use an ARM’S LENGTH of dental floss. Then she works her way down the floss so the same used part doesn’t get used again. I thought she was crazy, but it definitely feels easier and less gross.

  11. Lani says:

    I use those floss picks because my mouth is tiny and I can’t fit the needed amount of fingers in there for a regular floss. Haha

  12. Stephanie says:

    A friend recently told me he keeps the floss picks in his car. He drives a bunch during the day for work and flosses when he’s sitting at red lights. His dentist always tells him he does a great job and if he forgets before bed, oh well!

  13. Liz says:

    If I have trouble reading small print on a label or tag, I take a picture of it with my iPhone so that I can zoom in. No more problems with tiny print!

  14. Lisa Z says:

    What a funny story! Back in elementary school, I got picked for the “swish and spit” special dental program because I had so many cavities at a young age. We had to swish this horrible tasting fluoride stuff and spit it out (hence, the name I can recall), and we also learned about good dental hygiene practices. They taught us to floss using LONG pieces of floss, but I’ll never forget at a sleepover one night my two girlfriends were shocked at how much floss I took! That made me feel bad and I never really recovered from that peer pressure. To this day I hate and resist flossing and try to use as little as possible when I do it. So I totally think your hygienist, and you, are onto something. People shouldn’t feel bad about needing a lot of floss to make the job easier!

  15. Jody A Van Driel says:

    I just went to the dentist yesterday and it’s definitely not my favorite place to be. For one thing, I had a relative who died on Good Friday 2005 after having a root canal the afternoon before. She hadn’t had the pre-treatment and the bacteria went to her heart so I have quite a bit of anxiety and trepidation each visit I make. There, I was actually able to state what happened without being too emotional. I’m making progress! Anyway, like most people, I really don’t like to floss even though I know I need to and I use an extra long piece of floss whenever I do. I think it comes from my hands not having as much strength anymore due to the carpal tunnel I have had for years. And I did have the surgery to release it but the strength will just not be the same. So anything discovered that makes something easier is welcome!

  16. Guilty as charged, but for a reason. I like unwaxed floss, and it’s impossible to find in France. So yes, I am hoarding my floss.
    BTW, I visited the cutest village that you would love. Montolieu, in the south of France, with 17 bookstores and 700 people. There are random stacks of books all over the place. Plus, it’s very picturesque.

  17. Alaina says:

    I never knew we were supposed to use a long piece! This bit of wisdom is *almost* making me want to go upstairs and floss! Maybe later…

  18. Mary says:

    Little things do make a big difference in our everyday living. I do as much meal prep on the weekend as I can. Making a big meal on Saturday that can serve as a weeknight meal too really helps me breath. It must be that time of the year, because I went to the dentist this week too.

  19. Annette Silveira says:

    I always pull out an arm’s length, as mentioned above. It’s so much easier to use that way.
    My mom had some serious periodontal work done when I was eighteen. I drove her to and from those appointments. That experience scared me straight. I hate going to the dentist, but I never miss flossing or brushing or my cleanings.

  20. Grace says:

    I only use the waxy kind of floss, and I leave it right on the bathroom counter so I can’t ignore it. Now I feel gross if I ever go a day without flossing.

  21. TinaLou says:

    I used Gretchen Rubins linking technique for establishing a new habit, I floss in the shower every morning. I get to hang out in the hot water, which I love, and the process doesn’t make a mess like it did when I (rarely) used the sink and vanity mirror. My cleanings have been exemplary ever since! Will try the arm’s length suggestion.

  22. I read while I floss. Magazines will stay flat on the vanity. So . . .I look forward to flossing. My kids use Plackers which seems to make it easier for them, but I’m partial to waxed mint or cinnamon, and yes, I am quite parsimonious with my floss.

  23. Julie says:

    I have become intolerant to physical discomfort I can change. I have a pair of underwear that isn’t comfy? I throw it in the trash can when I get undressed so I never have to wear them again. My ponytail is hitting the head rest on the seat and it’s making me sit with my neck at a weird angle? I take my hair down. I am thirsty? I go get water. I’m hungry? I eat a snack. I need to go to the bathroom? I just go ahead and go, even if I just went an hour ago, even if we have to stop at a rest stop before we need gas on the road trip, even if I’m about to leave work and I’ll be home in 20 minutes. I don’t know why, but for so long I was oblivious to these minor physical irritations that really affect my comfort and ability to tune in to things around me! All of these physical sensations decrease my patience and increase my irritability, and all of them are within my control to remedy. Maybe everyone meets these needs mindlessly, but for some reason, I was not tuned in and had to be mindful in noticing them.

    • Susan says:

      I’m with you, Julie! For some reason, I tended to ignore those minor physical discomforts, even though they were easy to resolve. I don’t know why, really. But since I’ve turned sixty, I’ve been better about noticing my needs and taking care of them if I can. They’re little things, but those little things can have a big impact on how I feel!

    • Alison says:

      I am the same way! I am an ENFJ and I’m never mindful of noticing these things. I need to get in this frame of mind!

    • Lindsey says:

      Yes! Gretchen Rubin calls this treating yourself like a toddler. It made me realize how many of my own needs I was ignoring.

  24. Jessie says:

    Dental: Floss picks are awesome–I hate flossing, but they at least make it easier and faster for me. They also don’t trigger my über gag reflex, which is something I appreciate.

    Other: I read (somewhere, and now I can’t remember where, maybe here?) recently that a great key to productivity was to have an overall policy that if a task is going to take less than a couple of minutes, you should just do it now. It seemed really simple and like it probably wouldn’t help much, but it really is amazing how much more I get done that way, and how much work it saves later on. Just by stopping to pick up a stray toy or load a plate into the dishwasher instead of leaving it for later, I have begun to use my time much more efficiently and have realized how quickly those small tasks build up into massive ones if left undone. I have to watch my time carefully so that I don’t get distracted and end up leaving the house late, but otherwise it’s a super simple change that has made a huge difference in our lives.

  25. ellen says:

    Electric Waterpicks are great along with a good flossing with plackers. My mouth feels so much cleaner using the 2 in conjunction with each other.

    A simple trick that makes my life so much easier when I’m doing chores around the house is to set the microwave timer and try to “beat it.” My own personal record for unloading a very full dishwasher is 2 min. 12 seconds. I’m constantly trying to beat “records” so I have that much more time to read!

  26. Katie says:

    I was always a loyal flosser until… my second child. I don’t know why. But it seemed like with my first and then with my second, there were just some habits and hobbies I couldn’t keep up with. With my second, I abandoned flossing. My dentist and favorite hygenist are very understanding and grateful that at least I’ve switched to a Sonic Care toothbrush. 🙂

  27. Lora says:

    I use a piece of floss at least as long as my arm. I’m pretty sure my husband thinks it’s wasteful. I’m currently visiting my mom and I ran out of floss. I used some of hers and then threw the used piece away in the kitchen trash so she wouldn’t see how much I used since I KNOW she’d find it wasteful.

  28. Liza says:

    My high school chemistry teacher had two basic replies to peoples’ complaints: “So?” and “Get over it”.

    Sometimes you just have to get over it and do the thing you hate. Or question what the big deal is…and every time I do, there really is no reason it’s a big deal except that I made it into one.

    • Emily says:

      Oh! Guilty!!! I make things into much bigger deals than they actually are; once I read some organizing/home help book about unloading the dishwasher every morning and the author said it only took her 3 minutes. “What?” I thought, it can’t be that short – but it is! I timed myself! 🙂 Since then, I agree with the other comment – if something seems to me like it’s going to take *forever* I time myself, and see if I can make it short.

  29. Karen says:

    Electric toothbrush, a shower flosser, and I floss in the car when I am stuck in traffic. I have had a lot of dental work done and I want to keep what I have!

  30. Heidi says:

    I realized a couple years ago that I could throw away the toothpaste tube/shampoo bottle/coffee bag without doing everything possible to extract the last minuscule amount of whatever was inside. Turns out, the world doesn’t stop just because you tossed half a cent’s worth of toothpaste in the trash. Hooray!

    • Susan says:

      Ha, ha, Heidi! I always do this with shampoo and shower soap. You are right–the world won’t stop if I throw it away with a teaspoon of liquid in it!

      • LoriM says:

        No! No! YOu have to pry the lid off the shampoo, fill it halfway with water, shake, shake, shake to get every last bit of shampoo off the edges of the container. Use the soapy water for washing your hair. Repeat this several times til the shaken water is no longer sudsy. Haha, yeah, I’m learning too, but it’s slow.

    • Rose H. says:

      Thank you Heidi! I feel like you are giving me the freedom similar to not having to finish a book that is not for me!

  31. Lisa says:

    Every day I put away the clean dishes and do any remaining dirty ones while waiting on the tea kettle. I’m in the kitchen anyway, and it doesn’t feel like a chore at all – just a way to fill the time. Usually by the time my tea is steeped, the area around the sink is clutter free.

    • Taylor says:

      I do this too! I’ve developed a morning routine since having my baby and when she’s happy in the morning is my best chance to put away dishes while making a quick breakfast!

  32. Diana says:

    I pay cash money for a flossing STICK with single use little pieces of floss on a cartridge because if I have to touch floss that was in my mouth, I won’t floss.

    • Meg says:

      I did this too, until my dentist said you’re just moving plaque from one tooth to the next with the sticks

  33. Allyson says:

    OK, you are not going to believe this. Yesterday afternoon I sat in the dentist chair having a crown drilled. I listened to Episode 92 of WSIRN on my iPod as dentist and assistant did their thing. The tooth in question was my wisdom tooth #32 way in the back. (Long story on why the wisdom tooth must stay.) I needed something that would totally occupy my mind from what was going on in my mouth and WSIRN fit the bill.
    In less than 2 hours, I go for my first root canal. I may have to resort to the NYTimes books podcast to get me through the next ordeal.

    • Susan Clark says:

      Allyson I soooo feel your pain with crowns and root canals – my last one was done in Louisville Ann (hint hint if you want a referral cause this guy was the best as I have had!). But Allyson I will remember this idea – (to listen to WSIRN) while having a long dental appt!!! Thank you SO much!

  34. Kristin says:

    Around the time I got married, I discovered I really enjoyed the fun scented pump hand soaps and put one at every sink, changing them out for different seasons. Fast forward to now with kids when there are more people and so many more hands to wash, I feel like we go thru them so fast and like an earlier commenter, I feel the need to use the very last drop, so I would have several of these bottles with a few drops lined up in the master bathroom. It took something I used to enjoy to something that greatly annoyed me. So I replaced ALL the pumps in our house with reusable pumps and buy the huge refill bottles. I do buy a fun one for the master bath sink (used least often) so I still can have my little enjoyment and only have to worry about those pesky last drops a few times a year!

  35. Zoe says:

    I also spent some time at the dentist this week getting my wisdom test pulled. ☹️
    I did want to say though that I also hated flossing- mostly because it felt tedious and took too much time. I did recently buy a waterpik though and I love it. It cleans in between your teeth very well and is super quick. I’d definitely recommend looking into it as an alternative to string flossing.

  36. Natalie says:

    My little luxury is extra wide aluminum foil. I use it to line my sheet pans for pretty much anything I bake. And it is wide enough to completely cover the sides. Just lift the whole piece off when you are done and get rid of it. For years I used the regular size roll and the juices or oil always managed to sneak under the edges of the not quite big enough piece. Now I just “splurge” for the extra wide heavy duty roll – which has its own space of honor on the back of my pantry door, and I don’t have to deal with washing any more giant pans. Makes me happy every time!

    • Natalie says:

      Thanks for this! I didn’t even know this existed but now I’ll definitely look for it. It’s so annoying that I’m putting foil so that I don’t have to wash the pan but the oil/juices still get under!

  37. Nichole says:

    So I’m a flosser and I use way too much floss. It has been a lifelong problem for me. As a teenager my mom asked my dentist to tell me I didn’t need to use so much floss. He looked at her and said “I have a teenaged patient who flosses her teeth. I’m not saying a word to her.” ?

  38. Jody A Van Driel says:

    I forgot to mention one of my tips that makes life simple and easy, especially when it comes to breakfast clean up. We make bacon on a sheet pan in the oven at 375 degrees. All of the splatter is contained in the oven and just the grease gets emptied into a jar and the sheet pan gets washed in the dishwasher. Then the splatter and mess gets cleaned up with the self-cleaning oven setting.

  39. truth time: I am SO stingy with the amount of floss I use. It’s ridiculous, especially as floss is not that expensive at all. I do floss fairly regularly though- I even keep floss in my office desk at work so I can floss after lunch. I don’t hate it… but don’t like the time it takes (again- still not much).

    When it comes to tasks I don’t enjoy- there are certain podcasts that I hold onto until I’m doing a task or chore that I don’t like as much and then I’ll listen to it. It’s a bit of a bribe I guess.

  40. Jessica says:

    I did the same thing with my braces…in fact, my whole mouth hurt so much all. the. time. that I wouldn’t even go near it with a toothbrush. It was bad. 12 cavities after they got taken off bad.

    I buy the little plastic flossers, because they’re what I’ll actually use! I was so proud the first time the hygenist said she could tell I was a regular flosser. Even still, if I run out of flossers and have to use plain-old floss…I don’t.

  41. Mary in Tennessee says:

    If there’s something I have repeatedly occurring that needs exact change (tipping the Sonic girl a dollar or two) or $8 admission to every basketball game, for instance, I will go to the bank and get envelopes filled with the appropriate bills and then label them. Sure, the bank teller may wonder when you say you want $80 in ten $5s and thirty 1s, but knowing you have exact change for ten games is priceless!

  42. Jamie says:

    Waterpiks are the way to go! I’m obsessed with mine. My dental hygienist suggested it to me because I’m terrible about flossing. I’ve already convinced several family members and friends to buy water flossers well, and everyone has thanked me!

  43. tonya Jenkins says:

    I buy pre-shredded cheese and pre-torn lettuce. I really hate getting dinner on the table and this makes it easier.

    • JennyOH says:

      Yes on the pre-torn lettuce. I love those chopped salads that come with the add-ins (bacon bits, sunflower seeds, a packet of dressing, etc) and my husband complains about the amount of packaging and my inner miser complains about how it would probably be cheaper to buy the ingredients myself and portion them out into salads – but I know I’d never have the time or oomph to do it, and happily eating salads for lunch every day is worth it.

  44. Brittney says:

    I discovered a floss that I love- listening cotton weave floss, and I use a liberal amount, which makes the whole job so much easier and more enjoyable!
    Have you seen the little fuzzy pick flossers? Kind of like a tiny pipe cleaner that you push between each tooth and it flosses for you. for some reason it is much more pleasant than regular flossing, and it feels kind of good.

    • Jody A Van Driel says:

      Yes! The hygienist recommended those yesterday and gave me a sample which had a coupon attached so I promptly went across the street to Target and found a pack with a portable case for On-the-go inside and it was on sale too! Plus cartwheel savings, YESSSSS! These things are wonderful and if they work as well as they seem like they will, I’ll be happy.

  45. Meg Evans says:

    I had to laugh when I read this post because my husband regularly comments on how I’m using too much floss, and I think he’s entirely too stingy with the floss! We use Glide, which isn’t the cheapest, but I have used it for years after a hygienist recommended it after a particularly painful session of scraping.

  46. Maggie says:

    My make-life-easier tip is that I buy the 5 gallon buckets of laundry detergent! With a family of six, it saves me from frequently shopping for detergent, carrying bottles in the house and out for recycling. The bucket lasts my family about 6-9 months. Amazing.

  47. Celia Edwards says:

    I use the Super Floss that comes in “super” long pre-cut pieces with three types of floss – a floss threader; a cushiony section; and a plain unwaxed section. Since I have had full braces on twice (once at 11-13) and once in my fifties, I have found this to be the best. Not my favorite thing to do, but a twice a day necessary evil!

    • Joani says:

      Me, too! I have a permenant retainer and this is the easiest way to get around it and still clean well (fuzzy floss cleans it better). Helps to not think about the length!

  48. Suzy says:

    I do the same thing with floss – too short. Going long tonight! My previous hygienist told me to dry brush my teeth first, before water and toothpaste. It has cut way down on scraping during my visits, one coming up tomorrow! Time to floss!

  49. Tracy G says:

    I’m super stingy with the floss but I do floss every day. Two things were game changers for me: 1) I have super-tight teeth that will snap or shred regular floss like crazy. Enter Glide. Once I learned about that I never looked back. Yeah, it’s expensive (thus my stinginess) but it works! 2) I’m not a morning person and I found that by flossing at night, the habit finally stuck. Two easy changes and my teeth are better for it 🙂

  50. Marisa says:

    Hilarious! When I was a kid and started learning to floss, I remember gleefully stringing out a nice long piece and my parents both gasping in horror.

    “How many teeth do you have?!” they teased. “You don’t need any more than THIS,” my mom demonstrated with about 8 inches of floss.

    I decided that when I was a grown-up, I’d always use nice, big pieces. And I do–it’s much less stressful!

  51. Pam says:

    Dental: Taking early retirement really helped my night time teeth grinding. No more jaw pain! Unfortunately, I can’t reverse the damage to my teeth.
    Other: I am in the midst of a downsizing and decluttering project – inspired by “The Life-Changing Magic …”. I find that setting a timer and working like crazy until it goes off allows me to get a lot done in relatively short periods of time (nine to 20 minutes, depending on the room or project). Short break. Repeat at least once. When I’ve had enough for one day, I reward myself with reading or TV. This way, I don’t hate my life, and I am still making steady progress on my downsizing project.
    More specific tweak: I bought an ink roller stamp that allows me to obscure identifying information on junk mail, utility bills, etc. No need to do much shredding – a quick pass with the stamp and then straight to the recycling bin with most papers! I gave one to my octogenarian mother, and she loves it, too.

    • Susanne says:

      Love the ink roller stamp idea! I feel like I waste so much time cutting or tearing off identifying information from junk before recycling.

  52. Annie says:

    I have similar conversations with my dentist for the same reasons! I had braces and nearly if not all other conceivable orthodontia on or around my teeth at some point. As for the length of floss, I tend to use multiple shorter pieces (rather than one long one) since they’re easier for me to manipulate, particularly when I’m reaching toward the back of my mouth.

  53. Natalie says:

    I never thought about this but I use about 12 inches. I have 3 of my wisdom teeth and the length helps me get to the back. I don’t floss daily so the roll I’m using now has lasted about 6 months so far and has a ton left.

  54. Susanne says:

    I have a pretty weird routine. I floss and brush in bed while reading! I find that I floss and brush much more thoroughly because I do not really want to close my book and go rinse. My dentist and hygienist always comment on my clean teeth!

    • Tami says:

      Susanne, I have the exact same routine and I’m a dental hygienist! I’ve told many of my patients to give this a try.

  55. Mae says:

    Thanks for this. I have a small mouth and tight teeth and it didn’t ever occur to me that using a longer piece, so I could secure one end more firmly would help enormously. Keep sharing.

  56. Dorothy K says:

    My hygenist is wonderful, too! And I have many, many, many dental procedures under my belt due to medications which were harmful to the teeth given out during the 60’s. Now we know better, so my children don’t have to suffer with bad teeth – yay! Anyway, my hygenist suggested the BEST tool ever! I use it every night now. It is the Listerine Ultraclean Access flosser. You can reach EACH and EVERY tooth without gagging yourself – sorry, TMI. I love it and it has changed my oral hygiene forever. Thanks for listening 😉

  57. Suzanne says:

    I hate flossing. I told my dentist point blank to leave me alone about flossing and then I discovered the plastic floss picks. I listen to audiobooks while getting ready for work and use one of these to go between each tooth. Takes 60 seconds and I don’t even notice because I’m engrossed in my audiobook (and my fingers stay dry). A game changer.

  58. Lisa says:

    I became a Waterpik Water Flosser girl when my hygienist told me studies are starting to show a connection with its use and a reduction in the occurrence of pancreatic cancer. Yes, it was an investment (but I bought ours at Kohl’s with Kohl’s Cash), but, if it means I get all the benefits of flossing and more without having to actually use floss, I’m all for it.
    Isn’t it weird how many things like heart problems and cancer all somehow connect to those pesky oral bacteria?

  59. Ally says:

    I am a new regular flosser. What made me make the switch after 36 years is realizing that getting a cavity filled costs about $350-$400. Which is like paying myself a dollar a day to floss. For some reason that did it for me!

  60. Lisa says:

    I keep extra trash bags in the bottom of my trash can. This way you don’t have to go scrambling for a bag, or someone doesn’t replace it quickly and you accidentally throw trash in the can itself! Also, this helps if someone is over and offers to take out the trash. They don’t have to ask where the replacement bags are located.

  61. Anne Marie says:

    Has no one yet mentioned using the “good” floss? This is what turned me into a daily flossed – springing for the floss that feels good and makes it easy (Glide, IMHO). Bonus if it has a mint flavor!

    Also using Amazon’s “subscribe and save” so we never run out.

  62. Diane says:

    Try keeping some floss, a toothbrush and some toothpaste in the shower. Sometimes it’s easier to take care of your teeth while cleaning the rest of yourself at the same time.

  63. Shawn Crane says:

    Hate flossing and stopped doing it about 3 years ago when my dentist told me about GUM brand toothpicks. Delightful little rubber-tipped picks with ridges that catch food. They even come with a slim little case for your purse, pocket, or car console. Every once in a while I’ll use a floss pick if something is really caught but they are rarely needed. My hygienist regularly tells me how well I must be flossing as my teeth and gums are in such good shape.

  64. Karen says:

    Maybe b/c I’m older than I think most of you are (a Grandmother), I have so much to do every night before I go to bed. I’m going to floss. I’m going to use good skincare daily, and I’m going to use the Sonicare toothbrush! But since sleep became harder for me with age, I also have to slow down earlier to settle down to sleep. So instead of waiting until the last minute to get ready for bed when flossing and all the above are just too much, I start it all (I even take a bath at night to begin to relax … ) at least an hour before I want to go to sleep. We’re not talking a spa experience every night; I just begin the routine early. Then I can stretch a little and read all I can before I fall asleep. Contacts, flossing, skincare routine (trust me), bath take a lot of time every single night, but what am I missing out on? Inane tv? I actually have more time to read than ever.

  65. I have a really small mouth, and I just can’t get all my fingers in there with dental floss wrapped around them. So, I pull off a huge length of floss and tie the ends together so I have a big circle. I just go around the circle with only a little part for each space and I don’t have to worry about cramming all of that in my mouth at once. I don’t know if this made sense, but it works for me.

  66. Melissa Fish says:

    I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer, but please reconsider using those individual flosser things. They are EVERYWHERE. Like our generation’s version of cigarette butts, I see them all over the place, and I live in a rural Alaskan town. Please take into consideration that that plastic thing you used once, isn’t going to magically go away when you are done with it–it takes hundreds of years to biodegrade if it EVER does. So if you love beaches, animals, nature, our planet, use a cotton floss. I use Dental Lace, which comes in a beautiful refillable dispenser. ZERO WASTE. Little things will make a difference.

  67. Kristina says:

    When my hygienist was on vacation, the substitute they brought in turned me onto pre-threaded floss picks. They were a total game changer for me. I had always thought somehow that they were cheating and the substitute told me, if they got me to floss more regularly, they were a good thing, not a cop out!

  68. Darcy says:

    My dad taught me this trick: double-tie the ends of about an 8 inch piece of floss together to make a circle. It’s so much easier to hold, doesn’t cut off the circulation in your fingers, and you just work your way around the circle as you floss. I showed my husband and he does it too, now.

    The other trick for me is deciding which foods to make and which to buy. Right now I make my own nut milk but buy the granola. I make my own bread but buy bagels. I’ve given myself permission to make my life easier when I need to.

  69. Ellen says:

    CoCo floss!!! I have a hereditary predilection to gum disease and after getting 6 months to clean up my act. I started trying every type of floss I could. Then I read about Coco floss in Real Simple and tried it. Why is it magic? 1-Its turquoise colored so you can see all the gross stuff that comes out (highly motivating) and 2- its scented (and not just mint or cinnamon but strawberry or coconut. Now flossing my teeth feels more spa like so I take the time to take care of me.

  70. Shar says:

    One life hack I use is for hard to find items. On the item or it’s packaging I write where the item was purchased from. For items hard to find and infrequently used, remembering where I bought it from a year earlier was near impossible. This takes the guess work out of it.

  71. I just don’t floss. I hate it, and it doesn’t improve my dental health, which is excellent: 3 cavities when I was 8 years old (and used to chew sugared gum all the time) and none since!

    I do rinse my mouth with hydrogen peroxide about twice a week; I keep the bottle in the shower to remind me. Earlier this year, I started using a Waterpik at my dentist’s suggestion to *prevent* gum problems as I get older. I now use the Waterpik instead of floss on those relatively rare occasions when I get something stuck between teeth. I was using it for routine cleaning every night for a while, but I’ve slid to about twice a week.

  72. Judy says:

    Anne, I love your hygienist! I can’t remember when my addiction to dental floss began, only that I was still a kid growing up in a family of 6. I floss my teeth twice a day; well, mostly three… I can remember my Mother and Dad always scolding me, “You DON’T need that much floss! It’s wasteful!” Ever dejected, I would promise not to use too much of the stuff the next time I flossed. When I was finally on my own, supporting myself, I bought dental floss 5 and 6 packages at a time and use great long lengths of it to floss my teeth the way I wanted, whatever the cost! I’ve been buying floss in bulk for nearly 35 years and even better, I married a man who supports my habit! To this day, I’m utterly delighted when he walks in from a trip to the store and pull 3 or 4 packages of my favorite floss out of the shopping bag and with a smile tells me, “They were buy one, get one.”

  73. Megan says:

    I know this post is a year old, but I came across it earlier this summer and it — as most of your blog posts are — was revelatory and incredibly helpful to me. It’s helped me look at things, like flossing, or other household chores and give myself permission to make the job a little easier. For example, I started buying paper plates to use during my busy seasons at work, where I’m working 70ish hours a week. It’s not an expensive help, but it made the entire process of cooking dinner, eating, and cleaning up, that much more manageable and me more likely to actually take care of myself by doing so at home versus out.
    I love your posts! Thank you for writing.

  74. Lindsey says:

    I’m a super lavish flosser. At least 18-24” each time. I also splurge and get the brand/type I like. I asked my dentist one time if there was one type that was better than others and she told me the best one is the one I will use. She’s totally right. Getting the floss I like has made it so much easier to get into the daily routine.

  75. Kanien says:

    We put a calendar in our bathroom for our family and if you flossed 30 days in a row you got $10. We did this for 2 months and now everyone just flosses their teeth. It’s become a habit and you feel gross when you wake up and forgot to floss the night before.

  76. Sue says:

    I’m sorry, I don’t get it with the lavish floss!! What good is two feet? I can see that just 6″ wrapped around two fingers would be too short and you’d keep losing it, but as long as you can wrap each end 2-3 times around your fingers and have about 4″ between, that’s good! I tried having the floss between fingers be a foot long and it was ridiculous! Couldn’t find my teeth! I don’t see any point in wasting so much floss. My hygienist showed me how to floss. She also recommend the thicker tape kind, and absolutely deplores the fancy slippery stuff, she says it’s useless.

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