Long Debated: Which Comes First, Brushing or Flossing?

Brush first? Floss first?

The American Dental Association says that flossing is integral to oral hygiene routine. The recommendation is brushing with fluoride for at least two minutes at twice daily, accompanied by once daily flossing. It keeps plaque, cavities, and gum disease at bay. Now, on flossing, some people floss daily as recommended, others floss only when they feel something’s stuck in between their teeth, while the rest, almost never floss. We all understand that flossing removes food debris, plaque and bacteria in between teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach.

Though it’s a simple, routine task, flossing seems tedious for most people for some reason or other. But apart from that, those who floss wonder if there is a specific sequence for better results – does flossing follow brushing, or is it the other way around.

Some experts say that patients can have flexibility. How frequently and thoroughly you clean your mouth is more important than the specific sequence. This suggest that it’s up to you to determine your routine. What works best for you is your personal preference. When are you most likely to thoroughly clean your teeth.

However, there are dentists and other medical professionals who differ and have their own preferences. For example, some periodontists, those who specialize in gum diseases, advice flossing before brushing. They claim that doing so loosens up plaque that you can brush away. Most people brush first simply because it’s the first thing in a routine they do. Then again, all of the research leads to the fact that it doesn’t really matter when you brush your teeth first and clean between them later. As long as you follow the brush twice a day, floss once a day rule, it’s beneficial.

Flossing Properly

What does matter, though, is that you floss properly. To make sure you’re actually removing plaque, you should place the floss between two teeth, curve it around the shape of one tooth, move it up and down (not forward and backward) a couple times, and then repeat around the other tooth. You floss not to get food out from between teeth, you floss to remove plaque from below the gum line that’s in between teeth. There’s a distinction.

Traditional dental floss, as well as dental picks, interdental brushes and water flossers can do the work. But for your unique mouth conditions, seek your dentist’s advice and how they are used properly.


Better Understanding of Brushing and Flossing

At Overlake Dental in Bellevue, we encourage and promote flossing, and whatever sequence you choose to do it is alright, for as long as the recommended standards are followed.