Why Does Floss Smells Bad?

One in four people is estimated to suffer from bad breath, also known as halitosis. Have you noticed people staying away from you when you talk or attempt to open your mouth? Are you worried that after you floss, it smells bad instead of your mouth smelling nice? If the smell isn’t offensive, it may be the floss smell, but if it is offensive, it is a mouth odor. Wondering why floss smells bad? Do check this out.

Why Does Floss Smell Bad?

If you experience a bad or foul smell after flossing, it simply means that rotten food particles, mainly fibrous, diary, or meat food, are entrapped between the teeth.

When you eat, and the food debris is entrapped in the teeth and left there for over twenty-four hours, it may start to decompose or rotten. This rotten stage of debris in the mouth produces a sulfur gas, which produces a foul smell from the mouth.

Usually, food is generally trapped when your teeth are widely spaced or have open contact. So you must pay attention to them while flossing to eliminate any entrapped food particles.

Is It Normal for Floss to Smell After Flossing?

It isn’t a normal phenomenon for floss to smell after flossing. It is simply an indication that there was left-out food debris that had begun to rotten that was not removed while flossing. Also, this can depict the presence of tooth decay or gum problem and harbors offensive odor-causing bacteria in the mouth. So you have to check which of the above is causing the floss to smell. Also, if the smell is consistent and very offensive, it may indicate an oral disease that needs the immediate attention of a dentist.

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What Causes Floss to Smell Bad?

Below are some of the factors that cause your floss to smell bad. One or more of these factors is usually the result of an offensive floss smell.

Rotten Food

The mouth houses over six million bacteria. The numbers look scary. You don’t have to worry, for they are helpful and harmless bacteria. This is not to say that they aren’t harmful bacteria; they are too. If you don’t floss or brush regularly, you may have more bacteria than the total population of people in the world. These bacteria feed on the food particles that are entrapped and left in the mouth. So the harmful bacteria amongst them produced the sulfur gas, which is responsible for the bad mouth smell.


Research states that over 40% of adults aged 24 to 64 smoke have untreated tooth decay. People who smoke are more likely to suffer from gum disease, tooth decay, tooth removal, and gum complication. Apart from tobacco contributing to smelly floss due to its strong offensive smell, the above diseases caused by tobacco can cause offensive floss odor.

Tartar/Plaque buildup

When you don’t floss regularly, tartar or plaque may build up in your mouth. This buildup entrapped disease-causing bacteria, which can produce an offensive odor.


You may be brushing and flossing correctly and doing everything right, yet it still gets smelly floss. Certain medications might cause this. Some medicines cause extra floss smell or oral halitosis, including dietary supplements, antifungals, antidepressants, acid reducers, antispasmodics, and so on. These medications release chemicals into the oral cavity, which causes a foul smell.

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Certain diseases and illness have known to contribute to the occurrence of halitosis. Examples are kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and gastric reflux.

What Can Be Done to Stop Floss from Smelling Bad?

There are many things you can do to tackle this condition. There are specialized kinds of toothpaste in the market designed to tackle foul mouth odor. Also, methanol gums and mouthwashes can help rid of it. Above all, you must brush and floss regularly to tackle bad mouth odor. You should brush twice a day and floss once a day.

If your floss seems to smell bad, another effective strategy you can employ is using a tongue scraper. A tongue scraper helps to scrape over the bacteria layer that can cause an offensive odor in the mouth. While scraping your tongue, ensure you do not apply too much pressure to avoid hurting or damaging your tongue.

If all these seem not to be working, the constant brushing and flossing, the use of mouthwash, and the tongue scraper. You should check that you aren’t dehydrating yourself. A dry mouth also contributes to your floss smell. If you don’t drink enough water, your mouth might be dry and cause your efforts to be in vain. Drinking enough water isn’t only healthy for the body but also helps to get rid of bacteria in the mouth. Ensure your mouth isn’t left dry.


  • Consult a dentist and go for regular dental checkups: A dentist will examine you and diagnose the specific cause of the bad floss. This will enable the dentist to offer specialized treatment to solve the problem.
  • Change your toothbrush regularly: You are to change your toothbrush every three months. But to tackle mouth odor, you might have to change your toothbrush every month.
  • Change your diet: Some diets have been found effective in fighting halitosis. They include; green tea, cherries, raw fruits and vegetables, parsley, basil, sugarless gum, citrus, and many more.
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Regular brushing and flossing remain the most effective and longtime remedy against mouth odor or smelly floss. Also, beyond flossing, learn how to floss right. Flossing is good, but when you do it wrongly, you tend to defeat its purpose. Also, flossing can be painful when you start, but it gets painless as you progress.

Furthermore, beyond brushing and flossing, ensure you use a good quality toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss. Never settle for cheaper ones.

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