Dental year-in-review

Earlier this year in May, I started tracking my dental hygiene habits by giving myself a sticker on a calendar every time I flossed my teeth. This started because I really hate flossing — there’s nothing inherently fun or rewarding about it, so I wondered if there was anything I could do to incentivize it or make it more fun.

I just kept going with it, and now I have eight months of flossing history to look at. I entered the data into Excel (giving myself a ‘1’ on days where I had a sticker on the calendar and a ‘0’ otherwise), exported it as a CSV, and used python to graph the results broken down by days of the week.

I used python’s matplotlib to make the graph, then I also used RPy to make the graph using R since I’ve never really directly compared graphs made using the two methods. Here’s the matplotlib plot:


and here’s the RPy plot:


I prefer the bars of the RPy plot because they line up nicely without any effort, but I do enjoy how matplotlib turned the y-axis labels horizontal for me. Of course for any more complex plotting I think the advantages of RPy would become much more apparent.

But more importantly: what can I learn about my oral health from this analysis? My flossing habits during the week are quite good, with >80% success rate regardless of the day, but on the weekends I tend to sleep in, fail to follow a standardized morning routine, and consequently end up promising myself I’ll floss at night (hint: it never happens). Don’t tell my dentist.

Here’s the code I used to generate these images: