Wednesday, July 17, 2024
HomeOral Health & HygieneHow Your Dentist Knows You're Not Flossing

How Your Dentist Knows You’re Not Flossing

A recent survey by the American Dental Association found that just under half of all Americans floss their teeth daily.

What about the other half?

My guess is that they’re the ones who floss twice a year — right before their dental checkups.  They think they can pull a fast one on us, but here’s a little secret: dentists can tell when you’ve been  flossing and when you haven’t.

How Dentists Can Tell When You’re Not Flossing

Woman Flossing Before Dental ExamThe way we can tell if you’re not flossing is if your gums are bleeding.  Although there are other, less common conditions that can make your gums bleed, gingivitis is the main cause.  Gingivitis is when the gums are inflamed due to all of the bacteria in your mouth collecting right between the gums and the teeth.

The problem is that it takes about a week of daily flossing for gingivitis to go away and make it so your gums don’t bleed when they are cleaned.

The most authoritative book on the gums — that’s 1,328 pages dedicated to your gums! — states the following:

The presence of plaque for only 2 days can initiate gingival bleeding on probing, whereas once established, it may take 7 days or more after continued plaque control and treatment to eliminate gingival bleeding.

So, if you end up brushing and flossing really well right before your dental cleaning and exam, your teeth will be clean, but your gums will still show the main sign of inflammation: bleeding.

If you really want to trick your dentist into thinking you’re brushing and flossing regularly, you’ll have to do it for at least seven days before your visit. And if you’re gonna do that, why not simply brush and floss every day?



  1. When to floss? I first brush my teeth, then I floss my teeth and last brush a litlle more to sooth the gum. In that way if I have residue of the flossing bacteria it will help to washed it away with the brushing of the teeth the second time.

  2. Some of my patients think they are sly, they will brush extra good for a few days, but thats not good enough to get rid of the gingivitis. What we would then notice is no plaque accumulation anywhere but red inflammed gingiva. Usually thats the sign that we see for a patient hat has gone crazy brushing teeth very often maybe more than twice a day for just a few days. Its true your dentist and hygenist knows

  3. It is extremely important to floss either before or after brushing your teeth. Flossing should be done for own good oral hygiene rather than do it because you have to visit a dentist. If you don’t floss, the bacteria that cause gingivitis will destroy the fibers that attach your gum tissue to your teeth.When this happens the depth of the collar of gum tissue around your teeth increases. If the pockets become too deep you will no longer be able to remove the food and debris by brushing and flossing. Also the pockets become progressively deeper and the periodontal disease will worsen.Gum disease or Periodontal Disease is the leading cause of tooth loss among adults. I believe this is because it never hurts and it is so common that people convince themselves that bleeding gums is normal.

  4. Well, you are correct bleeding gum are important factors that states whether the flossing being done right before the dental checkup or is done daily as a part of good oral hygiene. So one should always follow proper dental hygiene by following regular brushing, flossing and periodic dental cleaning by dentist.

  5. Thank you for your reply, I never inform you that the last teeth has
    grown inside the sinus we can’t see the teeth , in the x – ray only
    the doctor confirmed that the teeth has grown their and they operated
    and removed.


  6. Oh dear! My secret is out – giving my teeth the VIP treatment just before a check-up, naughty, naughty. As I love brushing and jetting my gnashers, the opposite is true when it comes to flossing. I know why this is because gum damage can occur, my having done just that many years ago to my lower front gum. It healed, but put me off flossing for ages; I now use dental tape which is thicker and kinder to the gums. Still don’t like the procedure though, I find it fiddly and smelly.

  7. I didn’t know that gingivitis could be reversed in just a week of flossing every day. My gums have been kind of red and puffy recently, and I was worried that I have gingivitis. I’m going to be visiting my dentist to have that checked, but perhaps it would be a good idea to start flossing daily to see if that helps as well.


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