How I Finally Made Flossing a Habit

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How I Finally Made Flossing a Habit


Confession: For most of my life, I haven’t been a consistent flosser. 

Brushing my teeth two times a day? No problem.

But flossing? That habit never stuck for some reason. 

This personal failure comes into clear focus twice a year, when I visit the dentist for my regular cleaning. The dental hygienist starts using a periodontal probe to plumb the health of my gum tissue. As she pokes the tool along my gum line, she inevitably reaches a point where the probe sinks in further than it should, indicating poor tissue health. 

“Oh, we got a 4mm pocket here,” she says. 

She makes this observation as neutrally as possible. But, in my neurotic, Larry David-esque mind, she sounds absolutely disgusted by my poor periodontal health and thinks I should be positively ashamed of that 4mm pocket. 

In fact, I actually call those gum pockets, “pockets of shame.” 

When I come home from the dentist, Kate invariably asks me, “Got any pockets of shame?” even though she knows the answer will be yes, because she knows I don’t floss regularly. Salt in the wound. 

After the probing and the discovery of more pockets of shame, the hygienist asks, “How’s your flossing going?”

“Oh, I could do better,” I say with a sheepish grin. 

“Well, just try to do it at least once a day. It will really help. We want your gums and teeth to be as healthy as possible.” Again, the hygienist is saying this cheerfully and helpfully, but since I’m feeling ashamed of my pockets of…

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