When we think about keeping our teeth clean and our mouths healthy, most of us attribute this to brushing our teeth, but we rarely remember that flossing is an important part of our oral health.

Even within the last ten years, only about 50% of Americans take time to floss. So why do people view flossing as more of a hassle than brushing their teeth, and what does flossing actually do for you?

Why We Don’t Like to Floss

There are many excuses people use to avoid or put off flossing their teeth, but in the end, that’s all they are, excuses.

The first reason you may not floss as often as you should is that it takes time. And if you have braces or permanent retainers, it can take even longer to thread your floss through the individual spaces. When you’re already going to sleep late and waking up with only a few minutes to get ready, an extra few minutes flossing your teeth seems like a lot to ask.

The second reason you don’t want to floss? It hurts your gums and causes bleeding. No one wants to experience pain if they can avoid it, and because your gums are a sensitive area, it’s easy to shy away from any amount of pain. If there might be blood, too? People would rather walk the other way because it’s better than causing yourself to bleed.

The final reason we’ll mention here is that you might think flossing doesn’t do you any good. With a toothbrush for scrubbing and mouthwash to get everything else, flossing seems like an outdated technique for getting between teeth. It just sounds like an extra step only meant for those who are truly dedicated to their oral health.

Why We Need to Floss Consistently

Despite these attractive arguments, flossing is an important part of staying healthy. Your teeth have 5 surfaces, and some of them can only be cleaned by flossing. Floss is there to remove any plaque still remaining after you’ve brushed your teeth and any build up of tartar along your gum line. Removing these leftovers will help to eliminate bad breath, too.

Flossing once every few weeks may keep you from feeling guilty, but it’s not enough to prevent the effects of poor gum health. Remember that pain and bleeding you don’t like? Much of that comes because you aren’t flossing regularly. This leaves time for your gums to become swollen.

Without flossing, you could be on your way to advanced gum disease, which can damage your gums and jawbone and lead to losing teeth. The results of flossing aren’t immediately visible, but as you are consistent, you will find your mouth happier, and keeping your mouth infection-free meets a healthier body, too.