I brush and floss and still get plaque: reasons and solutions for you!

Shocked by the view of your yellow-toned coated teeth today when you start your daily oral care routine as usual? So now you’re standing there looking at your bathroom mirror in the morning, thinking “I brush and floss but still get plaque!”. Surprise surprise! You have brand new friends who just love to hang out with your precious teeth. The more obsessed these yellow friends are with your teeth, the more you hate and want to get rid of them. This is what we call a toxic relationship!

No matter what you do they look insistent on hanging out there. So here are a few tips to keep an eye on to cut them out of your life. Let’s reconcile you with your smile!

This article is mainly about having plaque build up despite following a regular oral hygiene routine. However, if you’re more concerned about stains that don’t come off, and why your teeth are yellow even though you brush them every day, we have a separate article just for that issue!

Here are 5 reasons why flossing doesn't work for you!

Let’s take a guess, you’re pretty sure you haven’t skipped any step in your oral health routine. But you’re still saying “I brush and floss but still get plaque.” If that’s the case for you, let’s take a look at the reasons why your oral health routine isn’t working for you. First of all, let’s be real. Everyone knows what the most essential dental health practices are. If you don’t brush and floss, you’ll get dental cavities or various oral diseases. Simple. But here’s where things get a little spicy. If you still have dental plaque even though you brush and floss, there may be various reasons behind it. Let’s see:

You may have gingivitis

We know that Gingivitis sounds kinda scary. What if we tell you that it’s actually not if it’s treated early? In fact, it’s often not even painful. You may not notice it. In that case, it can cause periodontitis and similar serious gum diseases, and even tooth loss. So what is this gingivitis exactly? What does it do? Well, it’s a mild gum inflammatory disease. And almost everyone experiences it once in their lifetime. If you have complaints such as redness, swelling, bleeding, and tenderness in your gums, you may have it. But don’t worry! Because Gingivitis can be reversed in a short time with regular flossing. But keep in mind that proper flossing technique is the key during this process.

You have an untreated tooth decay

Almost every one of us are familiar with dental caries since childhood. Eating all that sugary treats was not a problem back then since we gave those rotten baby teeth to the “tooth fairy”. But those tooth fairies flew far far away and now it’s on us to take care of our permanent teeth.

As long as you don’t have superhuman pain tolerance levels, you can always notice tooth decay easily if there is any. It’ll give you forty minutes in hell if you drink a cold beer or eat chocolate. So what happens now? How do you fix it? You can’t. But your dentist can easily fix tooth decay! Yes, you have to go to the dental clinic. Because, unlike gingivitis, tooth decays are irreversible with only daily dental hygiene practice. And they can speed up the plaque formation process. So before thinking “I brush and floss but still get plaque!” you should know that brushing and flossing can’t do much to cavities. They can only prevent them from happening.

You might be using the wrong technique

The benefits of flossing and brushing are, of course, too great to ignore. But if you use the wrong techniques this can cause a few problems. According to one study, incorrect flossing can lead to gum inflammation. Flossing aside, there are things that toothbrushes can also cause. Wrong brushing techniques can cause plaque formation on the back and roots of the teeth. Also, using the wrong toothbrush type for you can lead to abscesses. If you want to get rid of dental plaque, you need to make sure you use the correct flossing techniques along with brushing techniques.

The tool you're using for flossing is inadequate

Finding proper dental care tools without any consultation can be a frustrating process. You may be using a type of floss that does not benefit your tooth type and condition. They can recommend woven floss, monofilament floss, waxed floss, dental tape, floss pick, and water flosser. Also, interdental brushes aren’t special for people with braces. Everyone can use them! In fact, it is better to use them. Interdental brushes work better at preventing dental plaque than regular flosses.

Your oral hygiene routine is not working for you

You have a daily oral care routine and you do not neglect it. No doubt about that. After you brush for a certain amount of time, then you floss. But the plaques are still there? Then your routine may not be enough for you. Also, you can try flossing first if you have gaps between your teeth to get rid of the excessive food particles. That way, you get the full effect from the oral products you use.

Small touches that you can add to your routine will help you prevent dental plaque. Try using a more suitable type of toothbrush for your teeth and change it every 60-90 days. You should also wait for a while to brush after a meal, start with your back teeth, and use mouthwash for 30 seconds. What you shouldn’t be doing is brushing after every meal and snack. It can cause the gums to recede and damage the enamel. Rinsing with water after each snack will be enough to remove debris between teeth. Even regularly washing your toothbrush holder can help. Who would’ve thought that?

What do I need to do?

Now that you know the possible causes of your stubborn dental plaque, let’s take a look at what you can do to get rid of them! So what do you need to do exactly? Well, you have plenty of options. But first, you need to go over the possible reasons why your plaque won’t go away and find the cause. After you understand the source of the problem you can look for an answer. Let us suggest a few of the solutions you might put to use.

Change your flossing tool: water flossing might be your thing!

Let’s say you’ve tried most of the traditional flossing techniques. And it hasn’t changed anything. Nylons, tapes, picks, and many more… Even the interdental ones! These types can be frustrating to use. Sometimes they break and get stuck between teeth. So, what do you need to do for a more comfortable flossing experience? Water flossing can be your answer. It can clean the remaining food particles with pressurized water between your teeth. This method is much cleaner and easier. Also, remember what we said earlier? Water flossing is more effective in removing plaque than other methods. A win-win situation. But still, it’s always a good idea to consult your dentist before you make sure you’re using the right one.

Make sure you're using the right technique

Adding flossing to your oral care routine is the right decision without a doubt. Just make sure you’re using the correct techniques for flossing. Because this decision can have very bad consequences. You can irritate your gums or cause your gums to recede by flossing too much. And using the same floss over and over again is also not a very good idea as it can cause inflammation. Think about all that bacteria and plaque that get stuck there. Your poor gums. Yuck!

Maybe you think seeing blood is never a good sign. Think again! Because you guessed it wrong. Well, at least for your gums. If you’ve recently started daily flossing, you shouldn’t be scared of a little bit of blood coming out of your gums. Trust science and keep flossing those pearls!

Change your oral hygiene routine

Sometimes finding the oral health steps that are right for you can be a challenging process. Many people think they can get rid of dental plaque by excessive brushing and flossing. Plain logic. The more routines repeated in a day, the better. But doing so will have the opposite effect, giving you nothing but worn-down enamels and receding teeth.

You can try making small changes in your routine instead. So that you no longer spend long minutes in front of the sink trying to reach every corner. It will save both time and water while providing a healthier mouth. Voilà!

Pay a visit to your dentist

People often try to solve oral health problems on their own at first. Of course, there are situations that can be resolved as long as they are not major. You can go to the dentist in any situation, whether it is very serious or very minor. Your dentists will know the best treatment and oral hygiene routine for you. So if you have any concerns about your oral hygiene practice, it’s best for you to consult your dentist.


1. Trombelli L, Farina R, Silva CO, Tatakis DN. Plaque-induced gingivitis: Case definition and diagnostic considerations. Journal of Periodontology. 2018;89:S46-S73. doi:https://doi.org/10.1002/jper.17-0576 Link

2. Gillette WB, Van House RL. Ill Effects of Improper Oral Hygiene Procedures. The Journal of the American Dental Association. 1980;101(3):476-481. doi:https://doi.org/10.14219/jada.archive.1980.0295 Link

3. Amarasena N, Gnanamanickam E, Miller J. Effects of interdental cleaning devices in preventing dental caries and periodontal diseases: a scoping review. Australian Dental Journal. 2019;64(4):327-337. doi:https://doi.org/10.1111/adj.12722 Link