Patient Education

Is it better to floss before you brush your teeth, or brush your teeth and then floss?

We'll get to that answer in just a minute. First, I want to share with you some things to remember about taking care of your teeth.

1) There is nothing magic about proper toothbrushing technique. What you need to remember is that it is about ACCURACY, not FORCE. Toothbrushing disrupts the bacteria that have attached to your teeth. Toothpaste contains abrasives that remove external teeth stains and assist with the bacterial disruption. And of course, toothpaste gives the activity a pleasant flavor. Excessive force while brushing can, over time, damage the enamel and produce sensitivity. Just make sure you are brushing all surfaces of every tooth two times per day for at least two minutes each time. Doing this is sufficient to remove the soft plaque bacteria before it becomes hard tartar/calculus. Daily consistency is the key. And rinse your mouth out with water after mid-meal snacks and drinks to help keep your mouth at a neutral pH (important because the bacteria that live in your mouth are more active in acidic environments).

2) You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep. Flossing disrupts the bacteria that are living between the teeth, under the gumline and in the other areas you can't reach with your toothbrush, including the back of your last molars. Flossing also stimulates the gum tissues around the teeth while cleaning them. Flossing helps reduce the incidence of receeding gums and the incidence of bone loss which leads to tooth loss and other unwelcome disease processes. Remember, if you don't floss your teeth, then you are only cleaning half of them.

So, should you floss before you brush, or brush before you floss?

The answer is you just need to do both regardless of the order. But I will leave you with something to think about.

I personally believe you should floss before you brush.

This is not because of some magic formula, but simply because of what we all know about ourselves and human behavior in general. If I floss before I brush, I am much more likely to still brush my teeth.

But if I brush before I floss, then I am more likely to say to myself, "Hey, I spent two minutes brushing and I need to go (to work, to bed, etc).

I look forward to seeing you at your next appointment. Please feel free to call the office if you have any oral health related questions. I want my dental practice to be the first place you turn when you have questions about taking care of your smile.

- Dr. Gifford