If you are like me, this conversation has played out exactly the same way every 6 months for as long as you can remember:
Dental Hygienist: Are you flossing?
Me: Uh … probably not as much as I should
Hygienist: Well .. how often?
Me: Uhhh .. once or twice
Hygienist: Per week?
Hygienist: You really need to floss!
Me: Starting today, every day ma’am!
And then you/I go home, floss that night and never again until the next appointment. When I was younger there was some measure of guilt associated with this. But now that I am old enough to rationalize myself into or out of about anything (as Nic points out), I’m free of my guilt fetters.
Why floss: Because there’s a chance that not flossing can lead to expensive and painful surgery down the road. But it certainly won’t kill you (will it?).
Why not floss: Because it costs money, takes time and may not end up actually preventing aforementioned painful/costly surgery.
LET’S RUN THE NUMBERS:
Why not floss:
$3 container of floss x replacement every 4 months x 50 years of flossing life until surgery = $450
3 minutes per day * 50 years of flossing * $20 per hour (approx average wage in US) = $18, 250
Total cost of flossing = $18,700
Cost of surgery / recovery – Who knows? Let’s call it $10,000.
Painfulness of surgery – Let’s call it 50% of the dollar cost = $5000 (you’d endure the pain of surgery for 5 grand, right?)
Chances of surgery coming to pass –
Chance you live until age of surgery (let’s call it 60 years) = 85%
Chance that you need the surgery if you live to 60 = don’t know .. let’s call it 50%
($ Cost + Pain) * Probability =$6,375 cost of not flossing
Expected cost of flossing = $18, 700
Expected cost of not flossing = $6,375
No need to even bring PVs into this… QED
Flossing. Consider yourself rationalized out of my life. Feel free to bring this printout to the dentist next time he/she gives you shit.