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Something Stuck in Gums, Floss Not Working?

If you've something stuck in your gums and flossing is not working, you need to use a special flossing technique with a water flosser. The combination of these two techniques should dislodge the stuck food but if it doesn't, you must see a dentist.

Gum swelling with something stuck in gums
Gum swelling with something stuck in gums

Signs & Symptoms:

  • Gum swelling

  • Redness

  • Feeling pressure in the gums

  • Discomfort or mild pain

Flossing technique for food stuck in gums

Regular flossing will not work on food that is stuck in the gums. The best way to dislodge the food in the gingiva is by using a special flossing technique.

How to use special flossing technique:

  1. Floss through the contact point (you should hear the snap sound).

  2. Hug the tooth in a C-shape.

  3. Floss the tooth as deep down into the gums as you can without hurting yourself.

  4. Sweep up and down a couple of times.chlorhexidine

  5. Now floss down deep into the gums one more time.

  6. Pull the floss against the gums.

  7. Floss the gums up and down a few times.

The video below shows how to get rid of gum swelling with flossing which demonstrates the same exact technique.

What makes this way of flossing special: Most people don't ever floss the gums because they only floss the teeth! The most important point is to pull the floss against the gums and actually floss it.

Why it works: If food is lodged into the gums, flossing the tooth will not remove it. You must actually floss the gums which is where the stuck object/food is located.

That should get the food out but if it doesn't, you can try the next step which is the water flosser.


Use a water flosser

An alternative way to get rid of food stuck in gums if flossing doesn't work is by using a water flosser. It doesn't matter which brand you use but the most common or OG is the WaterPiK.

waterpik water flosser
waterpik water flosser

How to use it:

  1. Crank the pressure knob to the highest setting.

  2. Aim it into the gums where the food is stuck.

  3. Use pulsatile pressure (not a constant stream).

Why it works: The high pressure water can sometimes flush out the stuck object in the gingiva. The water pressure is significantly higher than when you rinse out your mouth.

If this doesn't work, you will need to see a dentist.


See a dentist

If you can't remove the food stuck in the gums by flossing or with a water flosser, your only option left would be to see a dentist.

How your dentist removes it:

  1. Local anesthesia to numb the area (they may or may not need to).

  2. Using a scaler, scale out whatever is lodged deep into the gums.

  3. Gingival curettage. Sometimes your dentist will scrape the insides of the gums as well to help loosen it.

  4. Irrigate the area with chlorhexidine.

Your dentist or hygienist will certainly be able to get it out. Depending on how inflamed the gums are, you may leave with a prescription for chlorhexidine which helps the gums heal faster if you rinse with it twice a day.

Leaving it alone

If you leave it alone and don't get treated, it will eventually swell up and become a gum abscess. At that point it will become a dental emergency so don't let it get there!

Our dentists in Long Island City have been able to get the stuck food out every time so rest assured! One time we even found a piece of plastic wedged into the gums. How it got there? We've no idea... but our patient said that he felt like a new man once it came out.



David Chen 200 x 200.jpg

About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

Association Memberships:

Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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