On day 40 of my 366-day self-care challenge, I explored flossing as a act of self-care.
Dental hygiene is one of the most basic forms of self-care, and it’s so simple that most of us learn to do it at a very young age.
Regular brushing and flossing help prevent tooth decay and other oral health issues. At one time, it was thought that flossing may even play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease, but researchers now think that vascular inflammation and gum inflammation probably just share similar risk factors. Nevertheless, routine dental care can prevent plaque buildup that often leads to other, more serious health conditions like periodontal disease.
Flossing also helps prevent cavities, and if left untreated can cause pain, difficulty chewing and loss of teeth. This can be a concern for elderly individuals, who are already susceptible to appetite changes. In this group, poor dentition can lead to nutritional decline and unplanned weight loss.
Having trouble remembering to floss? Research has found that people who floss after brushing their teeth, rather than before, develop stronger, more sustainable flossing habits. (Interesting.)
This simple, daily practice should be a core part of any comprehensive self-care plan.