Flossing vs brushing: two crucial steps of oral hygiene

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Let the games begin! Flossing vs brushing! Which one will win? Which one is more effective? Well, if you want to know, stick with us and we will tell you in this article. A lot of us are guilty of not flossing and just do it whenever we have a dentist’s appointment. It is true that the dentist can tell if you are not an avid flosser. Yes, they know the “dirty secret”. Your dentist can also tell if you brush your teeth properly or not! All this said brings us to the flossing vs brushing comparison which both are important in achieving a cleaner mouth.

Teeth talk: Decoding the differences between flossing vs brushing

We are getting to the nitty gritty of flossing vs brushing. 

Everybody has some gap between their teeth called interdental spaces. Even the best brushes in the world can not reach all those spaces between teeth. This is where flossing comes in and saves the day. By using dental floss you can reach those tight spaces between your teeth that a regular toothbrush can not reach and clean. That is the aim of flossing to clean out plaque buildup from between the teeth. Of course, dentists recommend regular flossing as part of your daily routine, but even proper flossing can not replace daily brushing. 

As is also understood from its name, perceiving the difference between flossing and brushing is easy. 

To put it simply, you brush your teeth to get rid of all those food particles and bacteria that lead to plaque buildup on the surface, especially the front and back of your teeth; and floss to clean out those tight spaces between your teeth which a toothbrush is not able to do. 

Brushing your teeth should be the most important part of your oral hygiene routine. Imagine brushing is the big brother. So you could say flossing is the little brother. Both are equally important but serve different purposes when it comes to oral health. And that brings us to the next question.

Flossing vs brushing: Which one is more important?

Unfortunately, this is not a this or that situation if you want to maintain your oral hygiene habit at a pick level. The main purpose of brushing and flossing is the same, to keep your teeth clean and your mouth healthy. But brushing and flossing achieve that goal in different ways. The purpose of brushing is to clean the surface of your teeth. So when you brush your teeth you get rid of food particles and the bacteria in your mouth. Now, how about the purpose of flossing then? Unlike brushing, by flossing, you go between your teeth and remove food debris and plaque buildup.

So, since we said is not an either/or situation brings us to some interesting questions.

What about water flossing vs brushing?

Saying a water flosser is similar to traditional flossing in terms of their purposes, but they have a bit of a difference. Hence, it cleans out plaque buildup from between the teeth with the added feature of removing subgingival plaque as well. A water flosser or oral irrigator works with water pressure and removes food debris and dental plaque using pressurized water. Many people have claimed that oral irrigators have been a game changer in their oral health routine. But when it comes to water flossing vs brushing, we have to give it to brushing. Brushing can only remove plaque accumulation from teeth surfaces rather than between them.

All these cleaning techniques for interproximal surfaces should be accompanied by brushing. Without brushing all these oral hygiene measures would fall short. Hence, do yourself a favor and keep brushing as the main part of your oral hygiene practice.

Is it worse to skip brushing your teeth or flossing?

It is best not to skip either one of these important parts of your oral health routine. Based on research it is mentioned that not brushing your teeth could be worse. Of course, flossing is important and you should build it into your oral hygiene habits. But the ramifications of not brushing are more than not flossing.

What happens if I brush my teeth but do not floss?

As we have said, flossing helps with interdental plaque reduction. As a result, gingival inflammation is reduced and it is less likely for you to have tooth decay. So, if you brush your teeth but do not floss, all the residue between the teeth would turn into plaque causing gum disease. Eventually making your teeth cavity prone as a result.

Is flossing more important than brushing?

It’s not a yes/or no question. Both flossing and brushing are important oral hygiene practices and you shouldn’t choose one over another. But when it comes to establishing an oral hygiene routine, professional dentists say not skipping proper flossing could be more important. With brushing you get rid of plaque on the outer surfaces of your teeth. As for flossing, you will get rid of plaque buildup between the teeth and subgingival plaque at the same time.

Remember this does not mean you can ditch brushing. As we mentioned high-quality flossing is more important than brushing. What we mean by high-quality flossing is regular flossing using a proper technique with high efficacy of plaque removal. So it is best not to replace brushing with flossing or vice versa.

What happens if I floss but do not brush my teeth?

Let’s answer this “why do you brush your teeth?”. To have cleaner teeth and to keep your breath fresh. So imagine not brushing your teeth. You will have a harder time keeping your teeth healthy and your breath fresh. Besides having bad breath all the time, plaque accumulation on the front and back of your teeth surface will harden and help with the development of cavities.

Should you floss first or after brushing?

Oh, this question has been making people debate for a long time but recent studies have shown that flossing before brushing your teeth is more effective in removing destructive microbes from between your teeth. After flossing using fluoride toothpaste to brush your teeth could do wonders for your pearly whites.

Do yourself a favor and ask your dentist for tips on flossing and brushing your teeth. Putting that extra couple of minutes in your dental cleaning routine would benefit your general health in the long run. So go the extra mile and keep that healthy smile.

If you have more questions simply contact us! We at Dentfix are happy to see your healthy smile.


Waldron C, Nunn J, Mac Giolla Phadraig C, Comiskey C, Guerin S, van Harten MT, Donnelly-Swift E, Clarke MJ. Oral hygiene interventions for people with intellectual disabilities. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 May 31;5(5):CD012628. doi: 10.1002/14651858.CD012628.pub2. PMID: 31149734; PMCID: PMC6543590. Link

Ng E, Lim LP. An Overview of Different Interdental Cleaning Aids and Their Effectiveness. Dent J (Basel). 2019 Jun 1;7(2):56. doi: 10.3390/dj7020056. PMID: 31159354; PMCID: PMC6630384. Link

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