Most people wouldn’t miss a day without brushing. We love how our mouth feels when it is clean so we are highly motivated to brush, but we may not notice a big difference if we skip a day (or 2 or more …) of flossing. But the truth is, both are necessary, flossing is preventative and essential to good oral health.
But how do we create this good habit?
Brushing brings us immediate results, a clean feeling mouth. Since flossing is largely preventative, we are less motivated and tempted to skip. We stand in front of the bathroom mirror and make a decision, do I have time to floss? Do I feel like it? Where is my floss anyway?
How are habits formed?
The pursuit of a goal is relevant to the beginnings of habit formation. In order to reach this goal, 3 simple components are necessary, intention, motivation, and memory.
- We need to form an intention … I have decided to make my dentist happy and floss every day.
- We need to make a commitment to the intention via motivation … I really want to avoid gum disease, cavities, and bad breath.
- We need to strategically link our intention and motivation to a cue in our environment so we can remember we are changing our behavior … Set your floss beside your toothbrush and toothpaste. This will provide you with a cue as well as remove any potential barrier to your new flossing habit formation.
Over time, flossing will become automatic. To be exact, in 66 days. After a little more than two months you will not need to make a decide if you are going to floss or not, you will just do it.
You can read more about how long it takes for a behavior to become automatic here.
A quick reminder on why we should floss
Flossing removes plaque from the areas that brushing cannot reach. Removing plaque from these areas prevents cavities and gum disease, keeping your mouth healthy and avoiding bad breath.