Do you floss before or after brushing? Which one should you do first? This was actually a topic of much good-natured debate among dentists for a long time. But one thing all dentists always agreed on was that it wasn’t the order that mattered so much as doing both every day!
Recently, a small 2018 study published in the Journal of Periodontology found that flossing first had better results! So, why exactly is flossing-then-brushing better than the opposite order? From the study:
“The results showed that flossing followed by brushing is
preferred to brushing then flossing in order to reduce
interdental plaque and increase fluoride concentration in interdental plaque.”
In a nutshell, the study found that flossing first gets rid of plaque between teeth more effectively than brushing first. The floss-then-brush order loosens plaque between teeth, making it easier for your toothbrush to sweep it all away. It also more effectively deposits fluoride from the toothpaste between teeth that have already been cleared of plaque and particles.
In comparison, when you brush first then floss, any food, plaque and bacteria released from flossing potentially remains in your mouth and lingering on your teeth, gums or tongue until the next time you brush.
Another great reason to floss first is something of a psychological one: Floss first because it’s the one that’s more likely to get skipped if it’s left until the end!
Are you used to brushing-then-flossing, and would rather stick to that routine? If that is the routine that you are most comfortable with, and it reliably has you both brushing and flossing every day, stick with it. Again, the most important thing is that you both brush AND floss every single day!
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