The Cost of Forgetting to Floss

There are many types of preventative care, and flossing is probably the most underestimated and underutilized. The average person only buys 18 yards of floss per year, yet they need around 182 yards. Even taking into account that their dentist provides some, there’s still a great deficit there.

No one can say they don’t know that they need to do it. From childhood, teachers and dentists have been encouraging us all to use floss, so much so that in modern times patients often get flustered or look away when discussing it with their dentists. Dental professionals don’t want to guilt trip you into flossing. We hope you’ll make the choice to do it regularly once you read this article and realize how easy it is, how important it really is, and how it can save you money in the long run.

Steps to Flossing
Simply rubbing floss between each set of teeth won’t optimize flossing time. Rubbing the waxy string into the gum line along both teeth sides is ideal. Here are the right steps to make sure you and your kiddos are flossing correctly:

Step 1: Break off an 18 inch long piece of floss and twist around your two pointer fingers.

Step 2: Use thumbs to hold floss tight, and gently guide floss between teeth. Make sure you don’t snap the floss into the gums and irritate them.

Step 3: Gently guide floss up to gum line between two teeth. Then move floss in a slight C- shaped motion around each tooth structure, going below the gum line as far as is comfortable.

Step 4: Gently rub floss back and forth from between teeth, roll up used space on floss on one index finger, and repeat between all teeth. Don’t forget to do the backside of each of your four molars.

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Why Floss?
Most people know that flossing clears out those hard to clean areas in your teeth neglected by brushing. Removing plaque before it has a chance to accumulate and harden into tartar in those areas should be a priority. Flossing before you brush also dislodges food from your gums and between teeth so your tooth paste and brush can scrub them away. Flossing also clears out space for the fluoride in water and toothpaste to get to the more vulnerable parts of your teeth structures. (Source:

The argument has been made that mouthwash or sugarless gum are a good alternative to flossing. While both can reduce plaque in the oral cavity, tartar isn’t affected. Only floss can breakdown the stuck on substance and its long-lasting effects on the gums. If tartar control isn’t accomplished, gingivitis will happen. Inflamed gums can make the mouth more vulnerable to plaque build-up by bleeding and making cleaning areas around the swollen tissue. If flossing doesn’t happen for long periods of time, gum disease, bone or tooth loss can result. Periodontal disease and heart disease can also be in the cards. All this because a few minutes with some waxed string wasn’t done once daily.

Flossing Saves You Money Later
If the threat of the pain involved in inflammation, gum disease, and heart disease isn’t enough to persuade you, check out the cost involved in each of them compared to a yearly supply of dental floss. Gum disease treatment costs between $500-$10,000 depending on the severity of your case. Heart disease is an even longer, more complicated treatment because of all the symptoms and parts of your body it affects. Heart conditions, strokes, peripheral artery disease, high blood pressure and others will cost over $400 billion in a lifetime! (Source: Web MD)

Now let’s look at preventative measures. Each small container costs around $2 for the neighborhood of 50 yards each. The cost is less if you buy it in bulk at your big box store such as Costco or Sam’s Club. That means you’ll spend around $10 on floss per person per year. Optimistically, let’s assume you also go to your twice annual dental visits to keep gums and teeth healthy. These visits range from $80-$200. That means that your total preventative costs will be in the neighborhood of only $400 per year.

Tips to Remember to Floss
Do you have a few minutes each day you could commit to flossing your teeth? Are the cost and the risk worth it? We don’t think so. Put up reminder sticky notes in your bathroom or leave your floss out where you’re sure to see it and use it. Add it to your purchase list and tell yourself that if you spend the money, you need to utilize it. Set an alarm on your phone for the best time to floss and brush each day, and don’t hit the snooze button! Make your teeth a priority, and you’ll see and feel the difference in your mouth, and eventually, in your wallet.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on
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