Why Does My Floss Smell Bad?
We’ve all had that moment where today is going to be the day. We are going to heed the words of our dentist and start flossing.
However, when performing this seemingly benign task, we discover an offensive odor, that is slightly analogous to West Texas roadkill. So, what’s going on here, and is this normal? Well, it’s not normal, but it’s very common. Professionally speaking, there’s not a person on the planet who hasn’t experienced this un-fragrant bouquet at some point in their lives. And yes, it causes bad breath, among other things.
If the floss smells bad, it means that food particles, usually meat, or some other type of fibrous organic are getting trapped in the space between the teeth and in the sulcus ( small pocket below the gum line). It’s been allowed to sit in this space for 24 plus hours and is rotting. What you’re smelling is a sulfur gas produced by this rotting process. Bacteria will eat the food, poop out toxins and fart sulfur gas. Lovely thought isn’t it?
Spaces between teeth, crowns, and fillings make food impaction easier, so I typically tell my patients that a tooth with dental work requires 30% more effort to maintain than a natural tooth. However, inadequate brushing below the gum line can also cause this odor to form.
Now here is the bad part.
If you detect skanky smells not only does it mean that there’s a seething pool of bacteria munching on last week’s Fajita social. It also means that bacteria has caused an inflammation of the gums which then allows said bacteria to enter your bloodstream. This is very bad for your heart, brain, and lungs. Research now shows a strong relationship between oral bacteria and diseases of the body. Gums that bleed or an offensive smell is your body’s way of saying “ A Little Help Please”. I can’t stress this enough. If your going to the gym, eating clean foods and doing all the things that go with healthy living, allowing gum disease to persist is like trying to swim across the English Channel carrying a 50lb weight. It’s not going to work. Oral bacteria will stress your entire body and reduce performance and the ability to fight disease. The mouth really is the gateway to the body.
OK, so now you know why the floss reeks like a bait bucket in mid-July, but what can you do about it, right? Well, plain and simply you must floss, preferably daily, but every third day at a minimum. Yes, I know flossing sucks, but think about how many more deals you’re going to close when your breath is not mandating a federally funded quarantine zone.
Ok, those little wishbone floss thingies that come in a pack of 50…throw them away. Having seen over 100,000 patients I can honestly say this does more harm than good… It provides a false sense of security, and only serves to transfer bacteria from one place to another. It’s like a hard-bristled toothbrush; they make them because people buy them, but it’s not the way to go and you’d be hard pressed to find a dental professional that recommends them.
To eliminate bad breath and prevent the onset of gingivitis and bleeding gums do this just before bedtime.
- Brush your teeth. The type of toothpaste you use is irrelevant but HOW you brush is CRITICAL. If you’re brushing your teeth with (up and down or circles strokes) you need to change. These types of strokes clean the teeth but not the sulcus ( pockets below the gum line). I recommend the MD Brush toothbrush which correctly guides you into a 45 Degree angle to remove bacteria from below the gum line. Sonic brushes are OK, but a can also provide a false sense of security, are expensive and can cause sensitivity from being too powerful. You should ONLY brush in circles if advised to do so by your dentist which they will do if you have gum recession from brushing too hard.
- Floss. Remember you’re trying to scrape the plaque off the sides of the teeth, so make sure to pull and push against the teeth as you slide the floss down in-between. Simply popping the floss in and out is not enough. Floss and repeat until the floss doesn’t stink. Use a new piece of floss for each area. Floss in the shower; it’s the best way to be consistent.
- Brush again, but this time instead of using toothpaste, use Listerine mouthwash. You’ll be brushing with a liquid so it will be running down your arm and making a mess. NOTE: ONCE YOU SPIT, DO NOT RINSE THE LISTERINE OUT, just let it linger. It will continue to kill bacteria for up to 5 hours provided you don’t rinse or drink anything Performing your home care like this will yield immediate results. However the bacteria in your mouth will never take a vacation, call in sick, or quit; all they do is grow, multiply and release toxins, so your floss can return to a stinky state within 72 hours.
Written By, Mike Davidson, Dental Hygienist and Creator of the MD Brush Toothbrush – Designed to improve the behavior of brushing to eliminate gum disease.