If you do not floss your teeth, all sorts of problems will arise. Some of these problems will be limited to your mouth. Others will extend to other parts of your body. In fact, the failure to floss can lead to significant health issues that jeopardize your well-being.
Below, we take a closer look at what happens when you fail to floss.
Harmful Plaque Will Accumulate
It does not matter if people brush their teeth three times a day and rinse with mouthwash following every meal. The plaque will gradually build up if people do not floss their teeth. Food particles will accumulate between the teeth. Germs and sticky bacteria in film form, known as plaque, will thrive. Plaque can build up to the point that it not only looks quite unsightly but also causes other health issues to boot.
Your Breath Will Smell Bad
When people brush their teeth, the bristles of the brush do not move down between the teeth. Alternatively, flossing will pull out all the bacteria, plaque and food particles from these difficult-to-reach spaces. These are the nasty smelling bits of food that people need out of their mouths as quickly as possible. If the bits of food remain in place by the individual skipping flossing, then the individual’s breath will inevitably smell terrible.
The Chances of Gingivitis Will Increase
As time progresses, more and more medical studies suggest proper oral health care including consistent flossing will prevent tooth decay as well as disease, dementia, diabetes and gum disease. If gum disease is left untreated, it will likely lead to periodontitis that gradually leads to bone resorption as well as tooth loss.
The bottom line is brushing in and of itself will not get rid of all of that built-up plaque below the gum line and near the teeth. Consider the fact that upwards of 700 unique strains of bacteria exist within the plaque. Flossing is the only way to eliminate this plaque. Otherwise, if the plaque is left alone, it will spur gum disease.
Additional Issues Stemming From the Failure to Floss
If swelling occurs within the mouth due to untreated gum disease or another issue stemming from the failure to floss, it can cause an array of additional health issues like inflammation that leads to heart disease. Failing to floss can also spur lung disease as dental plaque within the mouth causes the buildup of organisms that cause pneumonia.
The lack of flossing can even lead to diabetes. A study performed at the University of California shows elderly individuals who failed to floss at least once per day were nearly two-thirds as likely to develop dementia.
Failing to Floss can Compromise Your Appearance
The failure to floss really can ruin your smile. Flossing gets food that is trapped between the teeth out of those tight spaces for good. If this food is not removed from between the teeth with flossing, those teeth will gradually shift. Try to floss at least once per day. Ideally, you will floss after each meal.
Dr. Eric Vanek, d.d.s
Eric has been a practicing dental surgeon for over 20 years and is the owner of Vanek Dentistry, a family dental practice in Costa Mesa, CA.
Published January 2, 2018. Updated December 15, 2023