What’s more important: Flossing or Brushing?

You’re on the bow of a sinking ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Toothbrush and paste in one hand, and dental floss in the other, you make for the nearest life boat. Before you can, the ship splits in two and sinks rapidly. Before plunging into the ocean below, you realise you’ll need one hand to swim. You must sacrifice one oral hygiene implement to survive. Like many others would in your place, you choose the toothbrush and paste, casting the dental floss into the depths of the sea.

You awake the next day to the sound of seagulls, and sound of waves crashing and tumbling white water in the distance. Ssssshhhhhhhhhhhh. Standing up and examining your surroundings, you find yourself marooned on a desert island with no hope of rescue for months to come. You notice the toothbrush and paste still gripped in hand. Did you make the right choice? (Speaking purely from an oral hygiene perspective, discounting the fact that dental floss could be used as fishing line to catch fish, and the toothbrush could be fashioned into a spear)           

     Flossing vs. Brushing

Almost everyone understands the importance of both brushing and flossing. However, many people don’t find the time to floss, instead settling on just brushing. Are they making the right choice?

Brushing involves the bristles scrubbing the surface of the teeth to remove any build up. This leaves your teeth looking and feeling clean and your smile bright and white. But is it neglecting the crucial areas of the mouth that lead to bad breath, cavities and gum disease?     

Unfortunately for the non-flossers out there, the answer is YES! For dentists, brushing without flossing is like washing your hands but not your fingers. Failing to floss leaves bits of food stuck between your teeth. With the warm and moist environment in there, it the perfect environment for bacteria to feast on the decaying food. The same bacteria are responsible for causing bad breath, cavities, and gingivitis. So, our marooned sailor in the story above will have clean looking and feeling teeth, but they’d be missing a significant part of what keeps their mouth healthy.

Floss on the other hand can get in between the teeth and remove any bits of food that may be in there. Further, it can disrupt and move the bacteria to be killed elsewhere in the mouth.

Conclusion

In the game of golf people often say, “drive for the show, putt for the dough”. If I could employ same analogy here, I would liken brushing to driving and flossing to putting. Brushing and driving look great (and impress the ladies), but putting and flossing is where the real big bucks are made.       

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