Do you floss? Even if you know you should, statistics show that you still probably don’t. Despite studies repeatedly showing that flossing is just as important as brushing and can even add years to your life, a startling 60% of Americans don’t floss every day — including,20% who never floss at all.
With those numbers, you’d think flossing was an extremely difficult task, instead of a simple routine that requires only an inexpensive product and two minutes of your time. We avoid flossing so much, we’ve even developed tools to make this already easy task even easier, like water flossing. But despite all this, oral health is not improving on a global scale.
But if your excuse is that flossing is too hard, a monkey just proved you wrong.
Monkeys Use Tools for Oral Health
Most of us already know that monkeys are known for using tools in their day-to-day lives, something that we often think of as unique to humans. Monkeys will use rocks to break open nuts, use grass to “fish” for insects, and even use leaves as umbrellas. But before you start feeling superior to these amateur tool-users, there’s another thing monkeys use tools for: Oral hygiene.
A recent video captured a Nicobar long-tailed macaque flossing last month. Macaques eat plenty of food that presents problems for the teeth: Food with thorny outer coverings, sticky or slimy foods, or even foods with hair. The monkeys are known to wash such foods before eating, but sometimes they still get bits stuck in their teeth. That’s when flossing comes in handy. This particular macaque using a bird feather, although other types of monkeys have been known to floss with hair, blades of grass, or even fibers from coconuts.
Whether these monkeys are simply flossing to get rid of uncomfortable food stuck in their teeth, or whether they have evolved to see the benefit of good oral hygiene keeping teeth healthy, researchers don’t know. But one thing’s for sure: If a monkey can do it, so can you!
Brushing Up On Flossing
If you haven’t been flossing much, you may need a little recap on the process. First of all it’s best to floss at least once a day (although it’s also a good idea to floss after eating food that’s likely to get stuck in your teeth, like popcorn.) The goal is to get your floss in between each and every tooth, dislodging stuck food and removing plaque.
If you need a refresher on the technique, we have a helpful video demonstrating the techniques. And of course, your dentist would probably be happy to walk you through the basics next time you go in for a checkup or cleaning.
Flossing may not be your favorite hobby, but don’t let it start to feel like an insurmountable task! Whenever you’re not sure if you have the time or energy to tack another two minutes onto your oral hygiene routine, just remember that long-tailed macaque and his bird feather, and you’ll remember that flossing isn’t so hard after all!