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What the Yuck: Is it gross to reuse floss?
December 18th, 2011
09:04 AM ET

What the Yuck: Is it gross to reuse floss?

Too embarrassed to ask your doctor about sex, body quirks, or the latest celeb health fad? In a regular feature and a new book, "What the Yuck?!," Health magazine medical editor Dr. Roshini Raj tackles your most personal and provocative questions. Send 'em to Dr. Raj at whattheyuck@health.com.

Q: Am I totally gross for reusing my floss picks?

Well, you’re not gross. But, yes, the practice of reusing your picks is!

Floss is used to remove plaque, food particles, and bacteria from between your teeth. If you reuse it, you may reintroduce the old bacteria, which can lead to more plaque, and even some new varieties of bacteria that may have been lurking wherever you store your picks.

In other words: bad idea.

Copyright Health Magazine 2011


soundoff (419 Responses)
  1. Poodles

    What in the world would make you think to reuse floss? Do you reuse condoms too?

    December 19, 2011 at 11:31 | Report abuse | Reply
    • IGotAComment

      For 10+ years I have tied loops in the ends of my floss so I can hold it easily without strangling the distal half of my 'flossing fingers.' I also use rinse with a small amount of peroxide before I floss to help bubble out bacteria. A year ago I started using G-U-M Soft-Picks by Sunstar every other night. I have gone from years of chronic gingivitis to a near perfect dental cleaning per my dental hygenist. It works for me and I reuse the floss. I also used an electric toothbrush. And as far as 'Yuck, reuse floss,' you use that same old nasty toothbrush for how long???

      December 20, 2011 at 11:03 | Report abuse |
  2. Portland tony

    How about TP. Reuse that too? Is that a yuck you're to embarrassed to ask your doctor about? Gimme a break!

    December 19, 2011 at 12:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. IGotAComment

    I have reused monofiliment floss for years and my dental hygienist says my gums are in excellent shape. Of course I also hydrogen peroxide that helps eliminate pesky bacteria.

    Of more concern is the use of the toothbrush. All those densely packed bristles that hold moisture, food particles and BACTERIA. And you pick on a single length of easily washed and dried floss. Shame on you. Now, maybe multifiliment floss has other characteristics. Best to go with a monofiliment and a small amount of peroxide.

    December 20, 2011 at 10:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. drew

    Cheapskate....Cheapskate ....

    December 22, 2011 at 21:55 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. The Teeth Whitening Cure

    A "Bad Idea" is asking a medical doctor's advice on floss. If it works for you, do it, no matter what the AMA or ADA says.

    December 31, 2011 at 08:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. Name*Julie

    Thank you! My roommate leaves used and then reused floss picks all over the house and it is disgusting and embarrassing... especially when people come to visit and find them hiding on the dinner table between the salt & pepper shakers!

    January 11, 2017 at 07:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Brian
    February 6, 2020 at 22:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. TV

    What about reusing a toothbrush? Please explain how reusing a flosser would be any less sanitary. If you rinse or wash it I’d bet it’s way cleaner than your brush.

    April 12, 2020 at 21:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Brandon

    I particularly am concerned about using the same floss pick for the whole mouth, not a whole month.

    October 7, 2020 at 10:59 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.