These are words my dental hygienist and I hear frequently. Sometimes they are said in defiance but more often they are spoken sheepishly with a sense of guilt, almost like a confession. If you have ever spoken, or even thought these dreadful words, I have three things to say to you.

First, you are not a bad person.

Second, you are not alone.

Thirdly, you have effective alternatives to flossing that can help you maintain optimum oral hygiene.

One of these alternatives is tooth picking. Wooden tooth picks work. We also have some specially designed plastic ones and others with a neat little serrated rubber tip. Whatever you use, be gentle and thorough. Intentionally clean the spaces between all your teeth, not just the ones where the big pieces of schmuck collect.

Waterpiks are another option. Research indicates that the water spray not only removes food debris, but actually penetrates and damages the thin biofilm that attaches the bacterial plaque to the teeth, thereby retarding both dental decay and periodontal disease.

Waterpiks are readily obtainable in a variety of styles. There are even portable devices that can be used in the shower. They all work–if you actually use them. I have a box of very simple Waterpiks that attach to your shower head and require no electric power source. I will give them away on a first-come-first-served basis, as long as my supply lasts, to anyone interested in trying one.

Here’s the bottom line. If you are not flossing, for whatever reason, you don’t need to avoid your dental hygienist our of guilt. Just experiment with something until you find something that works for you.

Yours for excellent health,
Dr. S