We've all dealt with the annoyance of a popcorn kernel wedged in our gums. But how do you free whatever's trapped between your teeth when you don't have floss? According to a new survey, Americans are willing to admit to putting a lot of unorthodox things — including hair — in their mouth to remove bits of food.
Working on behalf of Waterpik, the company that created Water Flosser — a machine that created a targeted spray of water to remove plaque, tartar, and food — the marketing agency Ipsos surveyed 1,000 adults to determine the most common makeshift instruments people used to clean their teeth. Before you say "Ew," remember that, chances are, you've done some of these before too.
Atop the list was, not surprisingly, fingernails. According to the survey, which was done in conjunction with the American Dental Association, 61 percent of people use their fingernails to dig out any leftovers. Next on the list was folded cards or paper (40 percent), followed by cutlery like knives, forks, and spoons (20 percent) and safety pins (14 percent). Another seven percent confessed to using their hair.
So what's the reason for people's reluctance to floss? More than half of those surveyed said they don't floss frequently — or ever — because it's time-consuming. Even though respondents knew it wasn't a good idea to put foreign objects in their mouth (some even admitted they caused themselves pain by doing so), the cost — both monetary and time — of flossing was too high. Some, ironically, found the idea of flossing gross.
Dozens of studies have linked poor oral health to conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer's, and even pregnancy complications. That said, in 2016 AP reported that after extensive research, they determined that flossing doesn't work. While we wait for the scientific community to come up with a final verdict, it's probably best to keep flossing — even if you hate it. The next time you go in for your dental check-up, you'll be able to tell the hygienist with a straight fact that yes, you do floss regularly.