If you’ve been flossing your teeth for more than a few years, you’ve probably run into this problem before: you’re flossing your teeth like normal, and the floss suddenly snaps off between two teeth. Getting it out seems impossible, and you’re stuck trying to pry out the tiny piece of thread that refuses to budge.
The good news is that this happens to pretty much everyone at least once, and it’s usually a pretty simple fix. There are a few ways you can go about the removal process, but as long as you stay calm and don’t panic over your temporary problem, you should be able to fix the problem in no time at all!
Read on to learn all the ins and outs that explain why you might be running into this issue more often than you’d like—as well as some quick, easy solutions for fixing your smile!
Why Is Dental Floss Getting Stuck Between My Teeth?
The main reason for dental floss getting stuck in a place that makes it difficult to remove really comes down to how much space is in your mouth. Whether this space is due to your oral hygiene routine or just your teeth themselves depends on how much time you usually spend cleaning your teeth.
Tired of using dental floss? Check out our post on 5 Water Flossers Under $50 for an alternative!
In some cases, the floss may have gotten snagged on some buildup of plaque or tartar. If you’re just getting back into the habit of flossing your teeth or if you’re flossing an area of your mouth that’s especially tricky to reach, you may have a buildup of hard matter between your teeth that can snag or trap a thread of floss.
If you’ve been flossing religiously for ages, but your floss is still getting snagged, it could be a question of space. In many cases, dentists and orthodontists today are less eager to pull teeth today than they would have been years ago, which means that you probably have less space between your teeth than your parents or grandparents.
While having more teeth is absolutely not a bad thing (it can actually be a plus, most of the time), it may reduce the amount of room in your mouth. In turn, this means that the tighter fit between teeth may be more likely to trap your dental floss.
Finally, the brand of floss itself may play a role. If you’re using an off-brand or relatively cheap brand of floss, you may have to deal with more breakages than normal.
Will Dental Floss Just Dissolve?
Once you’ve lost a bit of floss between your teeth, you may be tempted to just shrug and leave it there. After all, if we put it in our mouths on a regular basis, it’s got to be pretty biodegradable, right?
Unfortunately, while dental floss is perfectly safe for use, it doesn’t exactly dissolve if left on its own. Most dental floss is made of either nylon or Teflon with a flavored coating or some other waxy polish.
Both nylon and Teflon are relatively tough fibers that are hardy enough to hold up to the digestive acids in your stomach, let alone the saliva in your mouth. While both are usually free of any dangerous chemicals or compounds, they’re still pretty tough. This means that it’s probably not going to go away on its own if you leave the broken thread stuck between your teeth.
Even if it did dissolve, having a bit of thread stuck between your teeth for days on end would be an extremely uncomfortable or awkward experience. As a general rule, we’re all usually pretty aware of foreign objects inside the body, and it would be easy to fixate on that tiny bit of floss to the point where it would become a distraction.
For this reason, if you’ve gotten a piece of floss stuck between your teeth, the best thing to do really is just to get it out as soon as possible. You’ll feel so much better once it’s gone, and you won’t have to deal with the constantly nagging reminder of the tight fit between your teeth.
Steps To Take When Dental Floss Is Stuck
Regardless of the cause, once you’ve got some floss stuck in your teeth, you should focus on getting it out as soon as possible. Again, this is a problem that a lot of people deal with on a regular basis, which means that getting that floss loose is usually pretty simple.
To dislodge a stuck piece of dental floss:
- Stay calm. Stressing out over a stuck piece of floss will usually only make the problem worse, so it’s extremely important that you keep calm and don’t panic!
- Stay away from sharp objects. Your first instinct may be to reach for a pair of tweezers or a toothpick. However, this is usually a bad idea, as you run a higher risk of cutting or tearing your gums.
- Rinse your mouth. Rinsing your mouth with lukewarm water will reduce any swelling around your gums and can often dislodge the floss itself for a quick fix! In addition, if you’re already bleeding from the flossing, this will help stop the flow of blood.
- Try a water flosser. If possible, use a water flosser to create a sustained stream of water that will force the bit of floss out from between your teeth until you can remove it completely.
- Pull from one side. If the previous two entries haven’t help, don’t try to grab the stuck floss from both ends. Rather, get a grip on one end only and pull in a smooth motion.
Why Did My Dental Floss Break?
As mentioned previously, dental floss tends to break either because it’s caught on something hard or sharp or else because it’s thin and fragile enough to easily tear. If the first is the case, the cause may go deeper than simple tartar buildup.
If you have any crowns or fillings in your smile, depending on the material your dentist or orthodontist used, you may have some sharp edges lurking in the back of your mouth. While you yourself may not notice these sharp edges throughout the day, they can often be enough to catch and tear a thin piece of dental floss.
If you don’t have any dental implants (and if you’re certain the problem isn’t your teeth), you may want to take a closer look at the dental floss that you use. It can be tempting to cut costs by purchasing a cheap brand of floss the next time at the store, but that cost may come back to bite you.
Pay attention to the brand of floss you use. If you notice that one brand or another breaks more often than it should, it may be time to consider permanently switching.
Finally, make sure you’re not flossing too aggressively. Any additional strain on your floss could not only risk breaking the strand in your mouth, but could also increase the risk of damaging or even potentially injuring your gums if you press too hard and cut the skin.
While it may be inconvenient, the fact of the matter is that most of us are going to get dental floss stuck between our teeth at least once or twice in our lives. Now that you’ve got the solutions to this fairly common problem, however, you should be able to continue taking care of your teeth without any real concerns!
If there was anything we missed or anything you wanted to add, please reach out! Let us know which of the floss-removal strategies you found most helpful, or share any tips and tricks that you’ve learned in the comments below!