When do you floss?
January 4, 2008 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Where does flossing fit in to your routine?

I have trouble adding new things to my routine. I'm all about routine, and what routine I have is almost completely concrete - to the point where many of my sub-routines go in the same order every time. It's rather Adrian Monk, really.

I've managed to slip brushing my teeth into my routine by adding it ito my shower sub-routine. It goes after I wash my hair and before I wash my face. In that order, every single time.

I am having problems identifying an ideal place in my routine to add flossing. At least several times a week, preferably once per day. The best place would be within a sub-routine, so I don't abstain unless I drop the entire sub-routine.

But where? When?

My abbreviated weekday routine goes as such:
Get up, take a shower, and get dressed (one hour).
At work or commuting (10 hrs).
Evening is not structured - usually involves food in some form (lots of takeout due to fact that size of kitchen rivals postage stamps) and lots of computer time - spouse contributes to and encourages this behavior. Very difficult to tear self away from computer. Possibly some reading before bed, but not routine (5 hrs).
Sleeping (8 hrs).

Let's not forget that I'm a champion procrastinator...

Where in your routine do you floss? Anybody have flossing creatively placed in a non-standard sub-routine?
posted by Cordelya to Health & Fitness (37 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Right after you brush, when else?
posted by poppo at 1:30 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss right after I brush every night.
posted by puritycontrol at 1:30 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss right before I brush. Every night.
posted by electroboy at 1:35 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

My dental hygienist suggests making it a prerequisite for your morning toothbrushing. You wouldn't leave your house without brushing your teeth in the morning, right? Well from now on you're not allowed to brush your teeth in the morning without first flossing. So to be presentable to the world, you'd better make yourself floss. To my mind this requires at least as much mind-trickery and willpower as just flossing on whatever schedule you want, but she's the pro and she swears by this approach.
posted by vytae at 1:38 PM on January 4, 2008

You should floss before you brush, but it sounds as if evening flossing doesn't have a subroutine to slip it into. What routine do you go through right before you step in the morning shower? Is there some way you can make a detour to the sink, floss, and then step in the shower?
posted by maudlin at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2008

while I'm waiting for my shower water to heat up. (we have tankless, and the bathroom is at the opposite end of the house from the water heater.) then shower, and brush after the shower.

you might also try right before bed, as part of a changing into pajamas (etc) routine. I keep meaning to do that and never quite make it.
posted by epersonae at 1:39 PM on January 4, 2008

If it helps for your sub-routines to have logic, you could floss before you brush your teeth. Yes, I know that differs from the previous comments, but flossing first helps by loosening bacteria and freeing spaces that need to get accessed by your brush.

Alternately, keep floss at your computer desk and floss while you're reading your daily news feeds. Or while you're laying in bed in the morning trying to get up. As long as you're not messy, you can fit the routine anywhere you have 2 hands free. I find it helps to keep floss convenient in multiple places since I purportedly have bad gums.

(IANAD, but I get lots of lectures from my hygienist, and like passing on the hate good advice).
posted by artifarce at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss after every meal but as I eat out a lot, I keep a stash of single-use disposable flossers in the center console of my car for one-handed flossing while driving.

Yes, I'm probably grossing out someone in the next vehicle. No, I don't care.
posted by jamaro at 1:42 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss when I watch tv, or when I'm reading online. It's my house, I can floss wherever I want. Then, I go and brush my teeth, and go to bed.
posted by headspace at 1:43 PM on January 4, 2008

After any meal that has tough stringy stuff (I have a tiny gap in the back that always gets painfully jammed up).

Also as part of the morning brushing ritual. I almost never forget to do it now, though it took several painful cavities (and subsequent filling replacements) to reinforce this bit of hygiene. Do you want the particulars?

Shower -> Shave -> Brush/Floss -> Eat -> Leave

I should probably floss after eating instead, but the way my momentum in the morning goes, I'm hauling ass out the door after eating, so I'd probably never get it done.
posted by jquinby at 1:46 PM on January 4, 2008

i never flossed in 27 years and recently required 3 root canals with crowns, 3 more crowns and about 5 fillings

floss it up, baby! i do it in front of the mirror to make sure i'm getting up in the gums and getting all the gunk out...and right before i brush
posted by Salvatorparadise at 1:48 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I floss after every meal, no matter if I brush or not. Once I started, I can't STAND not flossing. It feels like I am walking around with huge chunks of food in my teeth.
posted by Silvertree at 1:52 PM on January 4, 2008

I keep the floss by my computer and floss when watching a youtube video or some other non-interactive internet thing.
posted by sondrialiac at 1:54 PM on January 4, 2008

Per my dentist instructions, when I still had braces a few years ago: floss BEFORE brushing to get majority of bits out of the way, THEN brush. I will occasionally floss a second time if I've been eating anything that's inclined to still leave little bits behind.
posted by scody at 1:58 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss, brush my teeth and shave my face in a no-fog mirror during my morning shower.

The shaving occurs first while my hair is dry. Then I rinse my face and wet my hair for the shampoo. Once I have worked up a frothy lather of shampoo, I floss and brush my teeth.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 1:59 PM on January 4, 2008

I started flossing recently. Before bed, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and remove my contacts. Flossing got inserted after contacts. I do it at night because I have to wear a night guard for tooth grinding, and I don't want to have something covering and keeping warm and moist my extra-dirty teeth for the next eight hours.

My motivation? I recently had two cavities filled. My dentist, knowing I'm an engineer and I like this sort of thing, handed me the mirror to show me exactly what decayed tooth and drilled out cavities look like. It was disgusting. And he drilled out like half my goddamn tooth for a "small cavity." I am very motivated to floss.

Plus it's just so satisfying seeing all the crap you can floss out... yuck!
posted by olinerd at 2:00 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I floss before brushing every night. When I was single and lived alone, though, I used to keep floss in my coffee table, and floss while I watched TV. Maybe you could floss while you compute (how much time do you really need to be. Alternately, you could floss in the shower, before brushing.
posted by pdb at 2:03 PM on January 4, 2008

You need a pre-bedtime routine. Right before you step into the bedroom for sleep, you do the following:
1. Floss
2. Brush teeth
3. Wash face

Commit to doing this every night for one month. I was able to create a new pre-bedtime routine in that timeframe.
posted by crazycanuck at 2:04 PM on January 4, 2008

When I floss, I floss in the shower. A lot of what keeps me from flossing is the disgusting, messy nature of it. I find that doing it in the shower is the least objectionable.
posted by unclejeffy at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2008

Do you brush your teeth at night, as well? I found it easiest to floss before I brush my teeth right before bed. This ensures that your mouth is extra clean through the night, when bacteria has plenty of time to go to work. I sometimes try and floss in the mornings too, but if I'm rushed, it gets skipped. Much easier to do it at night when you have plenty of time. After years of not flossing and finally REALLY needing to start, that's what worked best for me.
posted by otolith at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2008

I'm not sure if the original post implies that you have no routine for brushing before going to bed. If you don't, you should add one. Then, obviously, you would just floss before brushing your teeth at that time.

Aside from the potential for being embarrassed by your breath, I'd have to think that brushing at night is more important for the health of your teeth and gums than brushing in the morning-- you are not eating or drinking for 8+ hours, your mouth tends to get dry, and whatever's in there is just festering.
posted by dixie flatline at 2:05 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

After every meal, right before brushing. Yes, I'm one of those OCD types with a toothbrush in my purse :)
posted by chez shoes at 2:09 PM on January 4, 2008

Nthing flossing at the computer. And try different types of floss until you find the one that works for you. I use Glide floss. My husband swears by the toothpick floss thingies. Neither of us can bear to use the 'normal' floss.
posted by happyturtle at 2:20 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

I do it at night, after I brush (though I realized recently that doing so right before makes more sense and reading these responses has cemented that for me).

I am much like you in how I structure my life, as well as in my tendency to procrastinate and my inability to implement new habits. Flossing has merely become a necessary part of my pre-bed ritual, which previously consisted of just brushing my teeth and taking out my contacts. My motivation was that my gums were bleeding every time I brushed my teeth before, and after one visit to the dentist they stopped. I'd like to keep them that way.

Also, a lot of people in my family have horrible and recurring dental issues as a result of their childhood neglect, and seeing the amount of money, time and pain that they now have to spend to fix those problems keeps me motivated.
posted by invitapriore at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

For many reasons (especially if you ever have trouble falling asleep or getting enough sleep), you should not read in bed at night. If the only thing you do when you get in to bed at night is sleep, you will have a nighttime routine of getting into bed. I'd recommend sticking your brush/floss routine in your "get into bed" routine; I believe more decay occurs at night. And, as an added bonus, you won't ever get morning breath (remember to brush your tongue!).

If you read or watch TV or get it on or whatever in bed close to the time you sleep, you run the risk of first, not sleeping enough, and second, losing your pre-bed routine.
posted by noble_rot at 2:21 PM on January 4, 2008

Do one tooth gap at each stop light on your commute.
posted by glibhamdreck at 2:28 PM on January 4, 2008

There's one rule of thumb I live by: if you can do it in the shower, you should. This includes flossing, brushing, text messaging, and catching up on the New Yorker. Never loan me a paperback.
posted by roger ackroyd at 3:43 PM on January 4, 2008 [3 favorites]

I would recommend getting an interdental brush in addition to whatever floss you like (I am partial to Glide, but I think it's a very personal thing, so shop around). I have some weird spaces near the gumline and the interdental is a lifesaver.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 4:01 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss right before I brush. Every night.
posted by electroboy at 1:35 PM on January 4

What he said.
posted by JimN2TAW at 4:56 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss at night and only at night, and it's part of my routine.

Wash hands
Brush (remember to brush your tongue as well)
Wash face

Or I do the above in the shower if I'm having a second shower in the evening.
posted by 6550 at 5:03 PM on January 4, 2008

I do it immediately before brushing my teeth before bed.

It seems to me that if you're only going to floss once a day, it's better to do it at night rather than in the morning. Since you eat throughout the day anyway, if you floss in the morning, you're going to get food and stuff in your teeth within the next few hours. But if you floss before bed, you spend all night with no bits of food in your teeth.
posted by number9dream at 6:28 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss while watching TV. Is that gross? (I am careful to not handle the remote) I don't see the need to do it standing over the sink.
posted by Brian James at 6:49 PM on January 4, 2008

I keep a Reach flosser in my car and floss while I drive to work. (Well, at the stoplights, not while I'm actually driving.) I really, really hate wrapping floss around my fingers and rooting around in my mouth. The Reach flosser is great!
posted by Joleta at 8:29 PM on January 4, 2008

This guy flosses right after using Stim-U-Dents and just before brushing, then I hit the Listerine about three times a week; all of this occurs after the shower before I go to bed. No cavities in as long as I can remember. Gums look good when they stick that metal probe in to see how deep it goes. If you got tight teeth Crest has a brand that claims not to shred.
posted by bkeene12 at 8:51 PM on January 4, 2008

I floss at night so there won't be little food particles sitting in my cracks 'n' crevices all night long, slowly eating away at my enamel. The I swish with Listerine to wash away anything dislodged during flossing.
posted by HotPatatta at 10:34 PM on January 4, 2008

Most people, I suspect, pin flossing to brushing as part of their general dental hygiene routine. That given: Previously.
posted by jjg at 12:18 AM on January 5, 2008

Floss at night before I brush.
posted by arcticseal at 8:50 AM on January 5, 2008

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