You’ve likely heard how important and necessary daily flossing is. You may have started off with a strong, consistent flossing hygiene regimen, but the busyness of life eroded your flossing dedication and commitment.

Maybe you’ve never been a fan of flossing. You don’t want to set aside the 1-minute each day to floss. Maybe the act of flossing and causing your gums to bleed freaks you out so you just don’t do it.

Whatever the reason is that you don’t regularly floss, you’re putting your dental health at risk and your dentist or dental hygienist looks in your mouth at your next dentist office visit, they will know you aren’t flossing.

Even if you diligently flossed for an entire week before your dentist office visit, the long-term effects and symptoms will still be obvious.

What are the signs that you’re not flossing? Here are the most noticeable ones:

Bad Breath

When you don’t floss, leftover food particles will rot and decay in the crevices on and between teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach. When anything decays, a foul odor is often the unpleasant result. With germs and plaque building up and decaying between multiple teeth around the inside of your mouth, you can bet your breath will be significantly worse than normal.

And if you think mouthwash will eliminate the smell, think again. The mouthwash may provide temporary clean, fresh breath, but it will eventually subside and the unpleasant smell will return. To completely get rid of the smelly breath, you must get rid of the source, which can only be done through flossing.

Cavities That Spread to Other Teeth

Cavities are not always the result of the failure to floss. They can be caused by improper teeth brushing. If tooth decay, however, spreads from one tooth to nearby teeth, it is an indication of poor flossing habits.

When one daily flosses, plaque is not allowed to build up between teeth that can spread cavities to multiple teeth.

Discoloration Around the Edges of Teeth

When you brush your teeth, you’re cleaning only the front and chewing surface and maybe the back of the teeth. Your teeth may be white as snow on the front, but that isn’t enough to fool your dentist.

When you don’t floss, the edges of teeth, particularly the edges that are between teeth, will be discolored.

This is because your toothbrush can’t reach in those tight, small spaces like dental floss can.

Bleeding, Swollen, Inflamed, Sensitive Gums

The most common and obvious telltale sign that you don’t floss are weak, sensitive gums. Gums that aren’t regularly flossed become more vulnerable to gum disease which can cause them to turn red, become inflamed and bleed easily.

Even if your gums are swollen, inflamed or red, if they bleed easily or are easily sensitive when your dentist flosses them during your routine cleaning and exam, it will notify them that you don’t regularly floss.

Your gums will be sensitive and bleed some when you first begin flossing. The more you floss, however, the stronger your gums will become and they will no longer be irritated by flossing.

Most of the symptoms of not flossing are easily noticeable and recognized by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Flossing is an important part of proper at-home dental hygiene. By not flossing regularly, you’ll increase your risk of gum disease and cavities which can ultimately lead to lost teeth and jaw bone decay.