Floss the Tooth, Not the Space

A month after I got out of college I went to the dentist. This was part of my ‘get my life together’ program that I installed after 4 years of drinking as much alcohol as I could, actually seeking out new ways to eat unhealthy, and rarely seeing a doctor or dentist.

I sat down in the dentist chair, they shined the light on my face, and within 10 seconds, the dental hygienist told me I needed to start flossing.

So I did. I flossed like a mad-man. Morning and night, without fail…I never missed. I know this was probably in my own head, but my teeth started to feel good, and clean. I noticed that I stopped getting that bad taste in my mouth 15 minutes after I brushed in the morning. It was going great.

Six months later, I go back to the dentist. Borderline excited to get my A+ grade. I sit down. Within ten seconds, the hygienist says to me, ‘You need to start flossing.’ I immediately go on the attack. Detailing my regimen. How committed I was. The kind of floss I used. She looked at me and nodded, she knew, ‘Your flossing the space, not the tooth.’

That phrase has stuck with me in life as much as it has in regards to dental hygiene.

If you are charged to do a job, do you know the right way to do it? Are you doing the job well? Do you know all the benefits of doing this job well? Are you doing this job completely and thoroughly or are you cutting corners?  

It takes approximately 12 seconds more to floss the tooth and not the space…in your whole mouth. I’ve found in most cases, that half-assing something is really 7/8-assing. Because the difference in time and effort it takes you to do something the right way is very, very small as compared to doing something incompletely, or sloppily, or just plain badly.

And the real problem is, with most things there is no number grade. You either do a job well and get a hundred, or don’t and get a zero. That time, that energy, that whole 7/8 that you put in…is worth nothing.

If you have a responsibility to do something, do it right. That was the samurai way. In peace times as well as in battle. Perfection in all things. If someone asks you to do something, that could be your wife, your mom, your friend, your boss…put in that little more effort and do it right.

They will feel better. You will feel better.

You do that consistently, and you will reap more benefits than flossing…and there are many benefits to flossing teeth.