Raise your hand if you repeatedly lie to the dentist after being asked, “have you been flossing?” Many people do not floss daily, if at all. But there’s a reason the dentist keeps asking: Flossing is one of the most important parts of dental hygiene. Flossing not only leads to a whiter smile, but also helps prevent yucky gum diseases like gingivitis, and in turn saves money in the long run. The best part? You only need to floss once per day at night for maximum results.

Some people hate flossing because it looks like they ate an entire field of strawberries, gallons of red wine, and two racks of barbecue ribs, but removing that gunk with floss, although gross, is a good thing. When too much plaque builds up, you are at serious risk for gum disease. By breaking up food chunks with flossing, it helps prevent the plaque from continuing to build.

Brushing and using mouthwash daily is a great way to keep teeth clean and prevent gum disease. But brushing alone only cleans the easy to reach surfaces of teeth. Pesky bacteria and plaque love to hang out in those tough to reach areas between teeth and near the gums. Those areas are tough, if not impossible for a regular brush to reach.

Flossing not only keeps the visible part of the tooth clean, but also helps below the gum line. Too much tarter buildup can lead to gingivitis, the first stage of gum disease. This buildup can affect the body too. Infections of the gums, in rare cases, can spread to the rest of the body, leading to multiple problems including heart disease and blood clots. These diseases sound scary, but it shows just how important flossing is.

Treating gum disease is also expensive. Taking care of something preventable like gingivitis is a great way to have a healthy mouth and save money. Spending a couple dollars on floss every few weeks is definitely worth the tradeoff. Your wallet and your teeth will thank you.

No more excuses. Even if you have to resort to using a shoelace, (just kidding) make time to get those teeth squeaky clean.