As a dentist who has practiced throughout many cities in California, I have had the pleasure of interacting with various demographics. I have spent the majority of my career mainly practicing in Santa Monica. In my career I have come to notice that more and more of my patients are living longer, healthier and more independent lives.

I can easily say that at least once a week in my Santa Monica office, I come across a geriatric patient (who for the sake of this discussion we will identify as an individual over the age of 80) who comes in alone and seeks a check-up and cleaning. Very often, I notice that these independent patients are either taking very few or even no medications. They also commonly have most, if not all their teeth and continue to have healthy smiles. Clearly, this is impressive and it begs the question: “What is your secret?” Unanimously, my geriatric patients respond with: “FLOSSING.”

It has long been documented in medical and dental journals that gum disease is closely linked to cardiovascular health, respiratory illness, risk of stroke, diabetes, premature deliveries, low birth weight infants, and many other health concerns. These are scientific facts.

But I’m not writing this to reiterate what’s written in books and journals. I am here to let my patient’s know that based on my first hand experience, my geriatric patients who are thriving are unanimously flossing. Not only that, they are living more enjoyable, independent lives. I see it at least once a week.

It is my opinion that once we enter adulthood and pass our teenage years, flossing is actually more important than brushing. In fact, if tonight you were going to decide “I’m too tired, i’m only going to either brush or floss, but not both,” I would say FLOSS! It is the single strongest weapon against plaque.

I will end by stating that the health benefit of flossing just once a day has estimated to add 6.4 years to a person’s lifespan. That’s an investment of about a minute a day in exchange for over 6 additional years of life. So if you’re eating well, going to the gym and taking all these comparably more difficult health measures, consider a simpler one too: FLOSSING!