Brushing or Flossing: Which Comes First?

This is a question that gets asked over and over by those who wish to maintain great oral health. The answer that you will get from most dental professionals is that it really does not matter as long as you do both well. Let’s consider proper technique for brushing and flossing, and then discuss a few of the advantages of brushing or flossing first.

Proper Brushing Technique

When you brush your teeth, it should always be in a circular motion. Is it better to just get an electric toothbrush? That is only the case if you get one that spins in a circular motion, and it helps you to remember not to brush straight back and forth. Be sure to brush at 45-degree angle to the gumline. This will help you to remove the maximum amount of bacteria before it has the chance to harden into tartar (which will have to be removed at the dentist’s office during your six-month cleaning). You should brush for about two minutes at a time. This gives you enough time to clean the front, back, and top of each tooth well. You may want to use the stopwatch feature of your phone to make sure that you are spending sufficient time on your teeth.

How to Floss Correctly

Be sure to use about a foot and a half of floss so that you have plenty of room to wrap your fingers (you can also use a floss pick). This gives you plenty of floss to switch to a clean section for each tooth. Don’t just pull the floss back and forth between teeth, but also move it up and down. It is good to get below the gumline since your toothbrush won’t get in there. It’s not about flossing hard. If you floss twice per day, you should be able to glide the floss gently.

So What Should Be First?

Some say brushing should be first because the residue left on your teeth from the fluoride in the toothpaste gets picked up by the floss and improves cleaning between the teeth and below the gumline. Others say that you should floss first to loosen food particles and bacteria that can then be more easily brushed away.

You can decide for yourself which makes more sense. The important thing is to brush and floss every day because it takes about 24 hours for plaque to form. Brushing and flossing at least twice per day prevents this build up and protects your oral health.