Taking care of yourself can add up to a lot of hard work. Depending on your routine, it may take you quite a while to get ready for bed at night, or to get ready to leave in the morning.

If you’re looking to save time, you might ask, “Is flossing necessary?” You could give your teeth a quick brush and head out the door, but as it turns out, flossing is important to keep your mouth and your whole self healthy. Here are 7 reasons to make flossing a habit starting today.

1. Better Breath

The more you floss your teeth, the less decaying food you’ll have caught in between them. It’s gross to think about, isn’t it? Yet that decaying food is exactly what leads to halitosis, or bad breath.

While there are all kinds of home remedies to help you get rid of bad breath, from baking soda and vinegar (yuck!) to chewing on parsley, the best way is to take care of your teeth. Flossing is a big culprit that people often skip, but you’d be surprised how often they also skip the brushing.

Dentists recommend brushing in the morning and at night. How often have you skipped brushing before bed when you were feeling too tired? Or ran out the door to work and forgot to brush?

If you need some help to remember, set a reminder on your smartphone. You can also get a toothbrush and travel size toothpaste and floss to carry with you, that way if you do forget, you can still make it happen, even if you’ve already left home. Get rid of the bad breath by taking better care of your oral hygiene, including flossing.

2. Fewer Cavities

When food and debris build up between your teeth, they can cause cavities. Brushing alone won’t get rid of it all, and once the decay has started, it’s hard to stop. In fact, if the decay gets through more than half of your tooth enamel, it’s nearly impossible to prevent a cavity.

That’s why you need to floss daily so it doesn’t get ahead of you. There’s no catching up unless you make flossing and good oral hygiene a priority.

3. Look Better

There’s nothing more embarrassing than having someone point out the piece of spinach stuck between your teeth after a meal. Whether it’s a seed from strawberry or another unsightly hunk of food, when you floss after you eat, you’ll get rid of the gunk between your teeth. Then no one will see it.

You’re considered more professional when your teeth are clean, so if you’re headed back to work after a luncheon, that’s a good time to floss. You also want to look your best on dates, or countless other times when food is part of the festivities. Take a short timeout to brush and floss in the bathroom so that you stay looking your best.

4. Protect Your Fillings and Crowns

As fillings wear out, they need to get replaced. Replacing a filling means drilling more, which sometimes isn’t possible. Old school metal fillings of 30 years ago weren’t adhesive, meaning they had to drill larger areas of the teeth to help the filling stay in your tooth.

This can lead to tooth cracking, meaning that if you don’t floss and you get a cavity in or near a tooth that already has a filling, the only option may be to replace the filling with a crown. The more you floss and take care of your teeth, the fewer fillings and crowns you’ll need.

5. Reduce the Risk of Gum Disease

Cavities aren’t the worst of your problems. When you let them go too far, you’ll end up with a periodontal disease, starting with red, infected gums. It gets worse, though, sometimes even deteriorating the bone and jaw.

Flossing may make your gums bleed, but the more you do it, the less that happens. If you want them to stop bleeding, then you need to step up the flossing instead of avoiding it. Take care of your gums and you’ll get a lot more use out of them.

6. Save Money

The less you floss, the more you’ll have to pay at the dentist, especially as you get older. When you have to have dental work, it costs money. And the cost hits you even harder when you don’t have dental insurance, like about 23% of Americans (that’s double the number of people without medical insurance).

But you can save money on fillings, crowns, root canals, and other procedures. Eliminate them altogether when you take care of your teeth and floss every day.

7. Is Flossing Necessary? An Essential Guide to Forming the Habit

You only need to floss your teeth every 24 hours. That’s how long it takes before the food caught in between your teeth starts to damage them. Yet if you feel like you have extra pockets where food gets caught and it’s uncomfortable, you can’t do any harm by flossing more often than once a day.

It may even help you get into the habit of flossing (which makes the task easier mentally) if you do it every time you brush your teeth. The rote nature of the task becomes like muscle memory and less of a bother. For some instructions, read this flossing guide for helpful tips, from the front, easy-to-reach teeth to those back molars where the trouble usually lies.

Taking Care of Your Teeth

Sometimes the only real way to convince yourself that something is true is to experience it yourself. Don’t take anyone else’s word for it.

Rather than ask yourself, “Is flossing necessary?” just spend a couple of weeks taking better care of your oral hygiene. You’ll notice the difference, enough to convince you to continue the habit.

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