woman holding piece of floss in front of her fafe

When you first learned about dental hygiene, your dentist told you to eat a healthy diet, make routine trips to the dentist, and brush and floss after every meal.

Today’s quick-paced and jam-packed lifestyle rarely allows for time to brush and floss after every meal, but at the same time, it seems that a large majority of society only brushes. How often do you pick up a piece of floss and get rid of the food particles and bacteria between your teeth? Bets have it that you, along with plenty of others, rarely floss, if you even floss at all. So why has flossing taken the back seat, despite many of us being told it’s a must-do? Here’s what you need to know about keeping your smile healthy.

Why Don’t We Floss?

Some of the most common reasons that patients don’t floss are a lack of time to floss between each tooth and gum pain when a patient flosses improperly. While the answer isn’t the same for everyone, flossing often goes neglected because it can be very time-consuming. For some, the process is overly tedious and sometimes painful.

When flossing inappropriately, you can cause the gums to bleed, which may make a patient turn up their nose to using a piece of string between their teeth ever again. However, many people fail to realize that taking care of your mouth is a step-by-step process. Brushing alone will not eliminate all of the plaque and other bacteria within your mouth. Philips, the makers of Sonicare, have created the Sonicare AirFloss, which eliminates the need for floss. Instead, the product uses air and water to clean the teeth, and the process is much quicker and pain-free.

Why Is Flossing So Important?

While you may not think that a piece of floss or the newest Sonicare AirFloss makes a huge difference in your oral health, flossing is essential. Though proper brushing using quality toothpaste will help remove a good portion of the bacteria and plaque on your teeth, a toothbrush cannot reach between your teeth. However, traditional floss and the Sonicare AirFloss are designed to reach the small crevices between the teeth that are often left untouched by even an electric toothbrush.

You might be wondering, what does flossing do for me that brushing can’t? For starters, flossing reduces the amount of tartar build-up on your teeth. You’ll clean between your teeth and have much more pleasant visits to the dentist if you floss. Second, flossing will save you money in treatment costs. Failing to floss could result in gum disease and tooth decay that is pricy to treat. Third, flossing helps prevent other diseases. Does gum disease seem like a common theme when it comes to poor oral hygiene? Without flossing, you’re more likely to develop gum disease, which leads to systemic issues such as heart disease and diabetes. Finally, flossing keeps your teeth whiter! Who wouldn’t want pearly white teeth?

Which is More Important, Flossing or Brushing?

Flossing and brushing serve different purposes, so it’s not an “either-or” scenario. Brushing your teeth gets rid of the large food particles and cleans and polishes your teeth’ front and back sides. Brushing removes plaque that causes discoloration and can turn into tartar if you don’t brush your teeth. The time you spend brushing your teeth is also an excellent time to brush your tongue and examine your teeth and mouth for damage.

Flossing is just as important as brushing because flossing cleans between your teeth. After you’ve brushed and rid your teeth of large food particles, it’s time to get those hard-to-reach areas where your toothbrush can’t. Between your teeth is a prime spot for food to get stuck and bacteria to grow. You can have a cavity start between your teeth due to the lack of flossing, and even worse, you could develop gum disease.

Brushing and flossing are equally as necessary, and you can’t just pick one or the other. Be sure to brush and floss your teeth twice a day.

How to Floss Correctly

Many people floss incorrectly, but the process is simple when you get the hang of it. Tear off a short piece of floss and wrap it around your index fingers. Next, gently drive the floss between your teeth. Once there, use your fingers to bend the floss around your tooth in a ‘C’ shape. Move the floss up and down, being sure to floss at your gumline.

Contact your local Spokane dentists, doctors Ken and Marnie Collins, for a cleaning, exam, and flossing demonstration if you’re unsure.

However, if flossing isn’t working for you, there are other options to clean between your teeth.

Check List for Good Oral Hygiene


  • Brush your teeth
  • Floss between your teeth
  • Use mouthwash


  • Did you eat anything particularly staining or acidic for lunch? If so, brush your teeth 30 minutes after lunch with a non-abrasive toothbrush.


  • Brush your teeth
  • Floss between your teeth
  • Use mouthwash
  • Examine your teeth for new damage


Every day, all-day

  • Quit smoking cigarettes
  • Wear a nightguard if you grind your teeth
  • Avoid consuming dark-colored and acidic liquids frequently
  • Avoid sugary foods
  • Drink lots of water!

Schedule an appointment with your Spokane Dentist

If you do not floss often, now is a good time to start up a new habit. Remember that part of maintaining a healthy smile and mouth is planning routine visits to your dentist for check-ups and professional cleanings.

Don’t let plaque and bacteria between your teeth cause a decline in your dental health. Contact our Spokane dentists at (509) 532-1111 or schedule an appointment online.