can dentists tell if you floss
Your dentist can tell whether you floss during an exam by looking at your gums and teeth, even if you flossed right before your appointment

Your dentist can tell whether you floss during an exam. 

At a routine checkup, your dentist will not just look for cavities. A simple oral examination can reveal a lot more about your oral and overall health than you might think. Most dentists agree that at least 73% of people lie to their dentists, and 20% claim to have better flossing habits than they do.

How your dentist can tell whether you’re flossing or not


Your dentist can analyze your dental hygiene just by looking at your gums. If your gums bleed during cleaning, it may confirm that you do not have healthy gums. Bright red gums instead of fleshy pink gums are one of the first signs of poor dental hygiene.

Inflamed, bleeding gums are the result of not flossing and is the first stage of gum disease.


Stained teeth are another indicator of poor dental hygiene. If you do not floss, a sticky substance called plaque forms on your teeth and along your gum line. This can cause your teeth to turn yellow. 

Flossing aids in the removal of stain-causing substances that remain after you eat and drink.


Bacteria, plaque, and other potentially harmful substances can all contribute to bad breath. There may even be food stuck between your teeth, which indicates that you do not floss regularly.

Does flossing right before a dental appointment help?

Your dentist can see that you have not been flossing regularly even if you did a quick floss right before your visit. Your gums may still be bleeding and appear injured and irritated if you simply floss right before your dental checkup. Gums that are in good health appear tight and pink.

Just brushing your teeth twice a day without flossing can remove the plaque on the surface of your teeth and above your gum line. However, if you have large plaque deposits below your gums, it indicates you are not flossing as frequently as you may claim. 

Even if you are not noticing these symptoms, a trained dentist can detect them and will tell you if you need to floss more.

How to floss properly

Dental flossing can help prevent cavities, which also improves your overall health. Here are 6 steps to doing it properly:

  1. Cut off about 20 inches of floss and wrap most of it around one of your middle fingers. Wrap the remaining floss around the same finger of the opposite hand.
  2. Grip the floss between your thumbs and forefingers tightly.
  3. Begin by slipping the floss between your teeth. Using a gentle rubbing motion, guide the floss between your teeth. Never, ever snap the floss into your gums.
  4. Curve the floss into a C shape against one tooth once it reaches the gumline. Slide it gently into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  5. Maintain a firm grip on the floss against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss up and down away from the gum.
  6. Repeat this procedure for the rest of your teeth.


What causes tooth decay? See Answer

Why is flossing so important?

Flossing is essential for removing debris, bacteria, and plaque, which hide in the tiny crevices between your teeth. They stick around, accumulate, and irritate the gums if you don't remove them with floss. Flossing can lower your risk of gingivitis, gum disease, and tooth decay

Plaque that can contribute to cavities or gum disease is removed from regions where a toothbrush cannot reach by cleaning in between teeth. Regular flossing helps remove plaque-causing particles from between teeth.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/24/2021
American Dental Association. Flossing.

Penn Dental Medicine. The 4-1-1 on When to Floss.

Clay J. Does Flossing Work? The Answer and Other Truths About Taking Care of Your Teeth. HSC News.