Should You Floss After Brushing or Before?

While many people opt to floss after brushing their teeth, many dentists recommend doing it before.

Some people prefer to floss before brushing so that any dislodged food particles are cleared away. Others like their teeth and gums to feel clean prior to flossing. Is one approach better than the other? It depends on who you ask. The American Dental Association (ADA) has long taken the stance that either way is acceptable, and it comes down to preference. However, recent research published by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP) suggests that flossing first may be better for plaque removal.

The study was published in the Journal of Periodontology and involved 25 participants. During the first phase of the research, the subjects were instructed to brush and then floss. In the second phase, that same group was instructed to floss and then brush. At the end of each phase, researchers measured the amount of plaque remaining in each person’s mouth, and that amount was significantly less after the second phase in which participants had flossed first and then brushed their teeth.

The results supported the researchers’ theory that brushing after flossing did a better job of washing away the food particles, plaque, bacteria, and so forth that had been dislodged through flossing. Cleaning away as much plaque as possible is important as it is what causes gum disease. The gums become inflamed, and if untreated, the condition can lead to receding gums and even tooth loss.

Steven R. Daniel, DDS, is the president of the AAP, and he emphasized that while the study does suggest that flossing first is better, it is much more important that you do it every day rather than when. In fact, the AAP recommends flossing twice a day, whereas the ADA recommends once. The ADA does not warn against flossing twice, however, and while there is some concern about over-flossing, which can damage the gums, flossing even after every meal and snack will do no harm if you are employing the proper technique.

Brush Well and Floss Well Every Day

Brushing and flossing on a daily basis matters much more than the order of these activities. You should also visit your dentist on a regular basis for a checkup and cleaning. A regular checkup is an excellent opportunity to discuss your oral hygiene regimen with your dentist. Schedule your next checkup with Jeffrey D. Clark, DDS, at Scottsdale Cosmetic Dentistry Excellence by calling us at 480 585 1853.

Request an Appointment