The Real Truth of What Happens If You Don’t Floss

A graphic of a tooth cringing with text, "What happens if you don't floss your teeth!" and the Smile Surfers logo

As a parent, you might ask the question, “Does my child need to floss their teeth?”

Since your child will eventually lose their baby teeth, those teeth may not seem that important.

But here’s the truth:

Flossing teeth is just as important as brushing them. You should care for baby teeth the same as you would adult teeth.

What happens if you don’t floss?

Short answer:

Not flossing teeth can lead to major dental and overall health problems, like cavities, gum disease, and even heart attacks. Yikes!

Teaching your child how to floss is a critical part of teaching them healthy habits for life.

Now, here’s the more informative answer on what can happen if your child doesn’t floss.

Is it really necessary to floss?

Yes! Here a summary of why flossing teeth is so important:

Teeth have small crevices in between them. A toothbrush alone cannot remove the small particles of food that get trapped there.

Leftover food creates colonies of bacteria that begin to live and breed in those small spaces between your teeth. If left there for too long, the bacteria will harden and turn into plaque.

A build-up of plaque can cause gum disease and inflammation of the gums.

But by flossing, you can remove the bacteria, food, and debris stuck between your teeth and prevent dental problems.

What happens if you don’t floss?

Not flossing on a regular basis creates problems in your mouth, including:

  • Cavities
  • Gingivitis
  • Bad breath
  • Gum and bone deterioration
  • Potential tooth loss
  • Periodontal disease

And in case you’re wondering… Yes, a pediatric dentist can tell if your child doesn’t floss!

Unfortunately, not flossing can do more harm than just oral health problems.

Medical risks of not flossing

Periodontal (gum) disease is an infection of the tissues that support teeth and can have far-reaching side effects than just the mouth.

Studies have shown that gum disease may be linked to cardiovascular disease, bacterial pneumonia, stroke, and even pre-term births.


Oral bacteria from built-up plaque can enter the bloodstream, eventually making its way to the heart, where it can contribute to the formation of blood clots.

People with gum disease are nearly three times as likely to suffer from heart disease.

Children (and adults) who have diabetes are more prone to periodontal disease, dry mouth, and infections that can put them at higher risk for cardiovascular disease. This proves it is even more critical that children who have diabetes or are otherwise at high risk should make flossing a part of their daily routine.

Does everyone floss?

Here are the results of a study… This text opens a new tab to the study article… conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on American adults:

  • 30% floss daily
  • 37% floss less than daily
  • 32% never floss

While this study focused on adults, it’s likely parents who floss also ensure their children floss too.

And parents who skip the flossing routine probably don’t teach their children to do it either.

Habits learned in childhood easily transfer over to adulthood, so making flossing part of a daily routine when your child is young will help them retain that habit into adulthood.

Moral of the story:

Lead by example and floss your own teeth, and incorporate flossing into your child’s dental routine from an early age!

P.S. It’s never too late to start flossing!

How to teach kids how to floss

Here are four things to help you get started:

1. When should my child start flossing?

The general rule is flossing should start as soon as your child’s teeth begin to touch.

Keep in mind:

Flossing can be challenging for children to master. At young ages, they don’t have to skill to manipulate floss inside their mouths.

2. Try a flossing pick

Small hand-held flossers are now widely available and are often a better option for children.

They are easy to hold and allow your child to floss hard-to-reach areas.

Plus, they come in fun colors, tastes, and designs!

3. Should you brush or floss first?

The order in which your child brushes and flosses doesn’t matter too much.

The most important thing is that they do both jobs effectively.

4. Answer those “Why?” questions with knowledge

When asked, “Why do I have to floss my teeth?” be sure to share the importance of flossing.

Explaining the benefits and risks can help your child see value in this mundane task. Eventually, it will become second nature and a part of their lifelong healthy habits.

Lastly, don’t forget to visit your pediatric dentist

On top of flossing and brushing, visiting the pediatric dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings are just as important too!

At Smile Surfers Kids Dentistry, we have board-certified pediatric dentists in two convenient locations, Sumner… opens in a new window to Google Maps… and Richland, WA… opens in a new window to Google Maps….

Visit your nearest location’s website to learn more about our fun atmosphere and preventative approach:


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