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Brush or Floss First? The Biggest Oral Hygiene Question, Answered!

Two women deciding to brush or floss first

For the longest time, no one could say for sure whether you should brush before flossing or floss before brushing. The choice has been left up to each individual.

Not everyone cares about whether brushing or flossing should come first, but the topic has been a hot one in the dental health field. Even some dental experts share conflicting opinions. Some claim that flossing first gets rid of more debris while others believe that flossing after brushing pushes more fluoride between the teeth.

Which should you do, then? Brush first or floss first?

Dentists may now finally have the answer.

Flossing Before Brushing Wins!

A recent study published by the American Academy of Periodontology revealed some interesting results. Study participants brushed before flossing and their teeth were checked for plaque and debris. Later, the same group of people flossed before brushing and had their teeth checked again.

The results? When the test subjects brushed before flossing, they had high amounts of plaque left between their teeth. There was much less plaque found between teeth when they brushed after flossing.

Why might flossing first work the best? One possibility is that flossing loosens plaque debris from between teeth which is then scrubbed and rinsed away during brushing. Another potential benefit is that flossing first to clean in between teeth may allow the fluoride toothpaste used later to better access the enamel surface.

One other upside to flossing first is the fact that it’s easier to remember to do it. You might be inclined to skip the flossing once your teeth are brushed and your breath tastes minty-fresh. Some people simply choose to floss first so that they don’t forget.

Brushing and Flossing: Both Vital to a Healthy Smile

Brushing removes plaque and food from the inside and outside surfaces of teeth right along the gum line. Brushing also dislodges debris that’s packed into the chewing surfaces of molars. While a toothbrush can clean the vast majority of your teeth, it misses those spots in between where neighboring teeth touch. That’s why flossing is also necessary.

Ultimately, flossing first may only be slightly more effective than flossing after brushing. The difference in plaque removal is probably quite subtle. If you are in the habit of flossing after you brush, that’s perfectly fine. The important thing is that you are doing it at all!

The Perfect Oral Hygiene Routine

The best way to keep your smile healthy is to simply keep up with the basics. Tacoma dentists like Dr. Bui just want you to brush AND floss every day; it doesn’t matter which you do first!

Rinsing with a dentist-approved mouthwash, using fluoridated dental products, and eating a healthy diet are also necessary for keeping your teeth and gums in good shape.

From a scientific standpoint, evidence suggests that flossing before brushing may be the most effective method. But suddenly switching your routine won’t make a major difference in your oral health overnight. Visiting a dentist, however, can make a big difference!

Find out more about the best ways to take care of your smile by scheduling a dental checkup at the practice of Duke N. Bui, DDS, PS - Family Dentistry.

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