Here’s a little trick I came up with when I was about age 10 (1965).
Here’s the story behind it:
My mom is a hunchback and as such, she usually had to make her own clothing. As a kid, I helped her a lot with the sewing.
One day, in about 1965, as I was beginning to brush my teeth, I happened to see in the medicine cabinet a container of what looked like thread. The container had the label “Floss” on it. I had never heard of floss, so I took the container to my mom.
“Hey Mom, what’s this thread doing in the medicine cabinet? Shouldn’t it be downstairs in the sewing stuff?”
“No, Stevie. It’s floss.”
“It’s for removing stuff from between your teeth — like chicken or celery fibers. My dentist said I need to start using it to make my teeth healthier.”
At that point I suddenly thought I was like James Bond and I had been told about a secret weapon or something. I pictured some of my friends in school who already had black cavities between their upper front teeth. I didn’t want to have ugly teeth like that.
“Soooo, can kids use it?” I asked.
“I suppose so. I don’t see why not.”
“Allright!” I said.
And from that day I started flossing. It wasn’t like my mom constantly yelling at me, “Get your butt in there and floss!” I did it on my own because I felt like a knew a special secret agent trick or something. (Back in the 1960s, James bond was brand new and all the rage.)
Then one day I decided it would be even better to squish toothpaste between my teeth and floss it. I mean, you wouldn’t usually brush your teeth without toothpaste, so why floss without toothpaste or some other dentifrice, like mouthwash or whatever.
Since then I’ve been flossing all kinds of stuff between my teeth — toothpaste, mouthwash, fluoride, xylitol, calcium phosphate, peroxide bleaching gels, probiotics, etc.
In addition, I see some limitations of flossing (bridgework, implants, rough fillings, etc.), so I also use other interdental cleaners such as toothpicks, Waterpik, Sonicare Airfloss, Proxa-Brushes, and more.
When my wife came here in 1991 from Romania, she had never heard of flossing. It wasn’t until a few years after she had been here that she discovered flossing when she had a dental problem and had to see a dentist. Her new American dentist told her to start flossing.
She did, and within weeks she noticed a definite improvement in her gums and overall oral health. After getting a few teeth fixed, her flossing maintained those restorations and she’s been in great dental shape ever since.
She told me that growing up in Communist Romania was a real struggle, especially for the non-party people. Some people were communist, and others were not. You could choose to join or not. My wife and her family refused to join the communist party. Many of the non-party people barely had the basics. She had only one toothbrush with a wooden handle and stiff pig-bristles that stunk badly and scratched her gums. In America I had many plastic toothbrushes with soft nylon bristles that didn’t stink or scratch. When she was “lucky” enough to get some Communist toothpaste, it would harden into a solid block inside the tube within a week. I had all kinds of toothpaste and it never hardened solid in the tube unless maybe it was left uncapped for months.
Anyway, it’s interesting to see how my wife overcame some dental problems and began flossing at age 33. Now she’s 58 and her teeth and gums are great. She flosses toothpaste and uses all kinds of interdental cleaners as well as a Sonicare FlexCare toothbrush.
I’m 61 and I haven’t had a new cavity since 1984. I don’t have gum problems either. I have cracked a few teeth though, and they now show some slight signs of wear, but that’s to be expected at my age.
The point is that keeping our teeth as interdentally clean as possible has been a major factor in both of us, and our family, having good oral health.
And one more thing — as long as you are cleaning interdentally, it would be a good idea to add a known quantity of some known good microbes to your interdental areas. A good way to do this would be to chew up a lozenge of Orchestra Dental Probiotics and squish and floss them between your teeth too. That way you would be even more ahead of the game.