REAL BODIES: LIFE DOCTOR

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Do you floss? No of course you don't. Americans do, Germans do. British don't. We believe that character is more important than perfect Hollywood teeth and that snogging technique is more important than whether there's a piece of decaying spinach in your mouth.

Dentists say it's essential yet only 20 per cent of British people floss regularly. Or rather, 20 per cent of people buy dental floss. I'm one of them. I just never use it. Dental floss is the kind of thing I buy on the same day that I buy dried pulses with a plan to soak them over night and start making stews. It never actually happens but buying it makes me feel healthier.

I asked Elizabeth, a 27-year-old German person, if she flossed. "Why of course," she said apparently surprised that I even needed to ask such a question. "Why?" I asked. "Because I want to keep my teeth and gums in good condition and it is not very nice for kissing if you don't remove those bits from your teeth."

It all sounds so simple. But we don't do it. There's never a good time in the day, for one thing. The British Dental Association suggests doing it at night, "when you are likely to have more time". They can speak for themselves. I can barely be bothered to get into my jim-jams. Brushing my teeth at all is a monumental effort.

Dentist Mervyn Druian, whose Belsize Park practice incorporates the London Fresh Breath Centre knows the problem. "It's terribly boring. But if you don't do it, you are missing 30 per cent of your teeth surface when you brush."

Ninety-five per cent of British adults suffer from some gum disease. We are known for our bad teeth. It's one of our quirks, along with irony and driving on the wrong side of the road. Even Kate Moss has crooked teeth. But not flossing, like the Royal Family, may be a British eccentricity that we ought to drop. For the British Dental Health Foundation recently highlighted several US studies that had made a link between bacteria colonisation in the mouth and heart disease. Gosh.

If this doesn't convince you then consider the fact that 90 per cent of bad breath is caused by the gums and the tongue. If your gums bleed when you do floss that's an indication that your breath may smell. "After just a couple of days you will notice an improvement. If you don't floss then imagine yourself in years to come when your mouth shrinks by two inches when you try and kiss."

I'm bored of No Smoking Day. I pronounce tomorrow March 15, International Flossing day - "It's not imposs to have a floss. It's not just gloss So give a toss."

How to floss

Take a length of about 18 inches. Wrap the ends round the middle fingers of each hand leaving three inches between the fingers. Grasp the floss near the middle. Gently slide the floss horizontally forward and back until it squeezes through. Move the floss up and down the side of the tooth gently removing the plaque. Repeat round the mouth using fresh floss.

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