Facts and Myths About Flossing

Search engines make it possible to find a great deal of amazing information, all available at our very fingertips. Unfortunately, this can also lead to a rise in misinformation. 

There are a number of myths about dental flossing, most of which imply that flossing does nothing beneficial. We’d like to put these to rest for good.

Myth #1: You only need to floss when food is caught between your teeth. It isn’t actually necessary if you brush regularly.

While removing food is a very useful function of dental floss, it is not the only one. Flossing is as much a part of your oral hygiene as brushing your teeth. In fact, it does the exact same thing as brushing, but on a different part of your teeth.

Whereas brushing your teeth cleans off plaque and particles from the surface of your enamel, floss cleans off plaque and particles from between your teeth. Brushes, no matter how good, can’t always get the plaque off from the small nooks and crannies, but floss can.

Fact #1: Flossing cleans the parts of your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach.


Myth #2: Your dentist can’t tell if you skip on flossing.

This is unfortunately very untrue in a number of ways.

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss, and can cause such symptoms as chronic bad breath, bleeding gums, sore and temperature-sensitive teeth, puffiness, and eventually gum recession.

All of these are symptoms that we can see when you come in for your visit.

A lack of flossing also allows the buildup of tartar in the hard-to-reach spaces within your mouth. Part of the purpose for a semi-annual checkup is to give your teeth a good cleaning, which includes removing calcified tartar.

Fact #2: Dentists are not getting after you for no reason. We can tell when you haven’t been flossing.


Myth #3: Flossing can create spaces between your teeth.

This is entirely untrue. However, it may seem to be, on occasion. This is the result of cleaning spaces that may have previously been covered by plaque or particles.

On the other hand, lack of flossing can lead to gum irritation by plaque bacteria, eventually causing the gum tissue to recede. This will cause more of the tooth to become visible, which can cause the appearance of more gaps and space.

Fact #3: Flossing does nothing harmful to your teeth. It cannot move them out of place or damage the enamel in any way.


Myth #4: It is normal for your gums to bleed after flossing.

Many people ignore the early signs of gum disease, thinking that it’s a normal side effect of flossing. It is common, unfortunately, but not correct or healthy. Some of these people may even blame the dentists when a professional cleaning leaves the mouth sore.

The truth is that these signs and symptoms are indicative of gum disease. While gum disease is not always totally preventable through flossing, it can certainly be kept at bay.

If a professional cleaning has left your mouth extremely sore, we recommend keeping up with that level of cleanliness by starting to floss regularly, after your appointment. The same is true if you are experiencing bleeding and soreness from a session of flossing.

Building the habit of regular flossing will help remove the irritants that make your gums so sensitive.

Fact #4: Regular flossing should stop your gums from bleeding. If it does not, see your dentist immediately.