A frequent question that patients ask our team of dentists is, “Which should I do first, brush or floss?”. Regularly brushing and flossing are the basics when it comes to dental care, but does it matter which comes first? It depends who you ask.
Brushing may come before flossing in the dictionary, but it shouldn’t when it comes to our teeth according to the Oral Health Foundation. That’s because new research has shown interdental cleaning before brushing is the best way to clean our teeth effectively. The study found that flossing loosens bacteria and food debris from between the teeth, which allows brushing to be much more successful at removing plaque.
As for the American Dental Association (ADA), they say “Either way is acceptable as long as you do a thorough job.” In short, if you prefer one way over the other, it’s fine to keep doing it that way.
Some important stats to consider
Nearly 70 percent of Americans brush their teeth at least twice a day, but only 40 percent floss at least once daily.
Twenty percent of Americans say they never floss, and although a Delta Dental survey found a strong association between daily flossing and good oral health, other sources are not so clear-cut.
How do you know if you’re doing a thorough job?
Your dentist may recommend using plaque disclosing tablets available over-the-counter at pharmacies and other stores that sell oral hygiene products. Plaque disclosing tablets are chewed after you clean your mouth. Red dye will stain plaque that has not been removed, showing you spots that need additional cleaning.
5 Steps to Floss Like a Pro!
Of course, the method you use to floss may be more important than the timing. The ADA recommends the five steps that follow for a flawless floss:
- Start with about 18 inches of floss. Wind most of it around one middle finger and wind the remaining floss around the middle finger of your other hand.
- Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and forefingers.
- Guide the floss gently between your teeth using a rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss into your gums.
- At the gum line, curve the floss using a “C” shape against your tooth. Slide the floss between the gum and tooth.
- Hold the floss tightly against the tooth, gently rubbing the side with up and down motions. Repeat on the rest of your teeth, including the back side of your last tooth.
What are you worried about?