Brush or Floss Question: Is it better to brush or floss first? Answer: There are many differing theories on this. Some argue that flossing should come first because, when flossing, plaque and bits of food are loosened and should be brushed away after you’ve finished flossing. fluoride from the toothpaste will make better contact if food wedged in between the teeth is removed before brushing. The argument for brushing first and then flossing is that brushing your teeth first removes the bulk of the plaque on the teeth.
Flossing afterward forces the remaining bit of fluoride left on the teeth from brushing into the in-between spaces. Here’s my opinion: As long as you’re asking this question, it means you’re doing both, and that’s what matters. The synergy between flossing and brushing (and not the order in which you do them) will lengthen your life, improve your cognitive abilities, and will keep your teeth healthy and beautiful.
Unfortunately, if people are going to do one or the other, they’re going to brush. Flossing tends to be thought of as secondary, maybe because we’ve been told since childhood the same phrase over and over, “Brush, then floss.” Imagine staining only the front and back of a fence, but neglecting to paint the insides – sure, you’ve stained the front and back of the fence, but the insides are going to rot.
The same goes with teeth – if you neglect to floss, you can still get cavities in between. It’s a widespread myth that you can get away with brushing only. Flossing cleans out the parts of the teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach. Brushing without flossing can result in cavities, gum disease, and even heart disease. So, whether you brush first or floss first is your preference! I recommend that you stick with whatever works for you so that you stay in the habit of always brushing and flossing.
Blog Notes: About Mark Burhenne DDS Welcome! My name is Dr. Mark Burhenne, or Dr. B for short. When did we start seeing the mouth as separate from the rest of the human body? The mouth doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is intimately connected to the health of the rest of the body. In fact, the bacteria and entire environment inside the mouth are connected to the rest of your body so intimately that the state of your oral health can predict whether you’ll have heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
In my 30 years of practice as a dentist, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation and people who have fallen through the cracks due to our healthcare system’s failure to understand the oral-body connection. I created this blog to empower people to understand how your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge and tools on this blog will lead to greater health and well-being for you and those you love.
Throughout this website you’ll find high-quality articles and free resources for getting and staying healthy. It’s the info I use to keep myself and my family healthy, and how I treat my patients. I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in History of Art and had the privilege of attending the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, consistently ranked among the best in the US.
I am an active member of several continuing education groups and study clubs in prosthetics and periodontology that perform actual clinical work on patients. I have worked as an expert witness in legal dental cases. I’ve also volunteered as a dental surgeon in Jos, Nigeria. I raised three daughters without cavities (all without ingestion of fluoride). I enjoy downhill skiing, alpine touring, mountain biking, photography, and listening to jazz and classical records (you know, those flat analog 12-inch vinyl discs).
I am passionate about restoring teeth to their original function and beauty – and as someone who studied art history and is a hobbyist photographer, the intersection of art and the opportunity to help people makes dentistry my dream profession. I welcome your comments and questions and encourage you to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to get the latest on oral and dental health.
Ask the Dentist is for you, so I want to know, what would you like answered on Ask the Dentist? Mark Burhenne DDS Share this post Author: Dr. Mark Burhenne https://askthedentist.com/ Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Burhenne, family and sleep medicine dentist. Good dental health is good overall health. It's that important, and it's exactly why I created Ask the Dentist. Related Posts
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A common question that patients ask their dentists is, "Which should I do first, brush or floss?" The sequence makes no difference as long as you do a thorough job. Brushing and flossing is the best way to remove decay-causing plaque from your teeth and help maintain optimal oral health. Choose a toothbrush that feels comfortable in your hand and in your mouth, and use it twice a day. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle against the gums.
Move the brush back and forth gently in short (tooth-wide) strokes brushing the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces, and the chewing surfaces of the teeth as well as the inside surfaces of the front teeth. While tooth brushing removes plaque from tooth surfaces, it can't do the entire job of removing plaque. Cleaning between the teeth daily with floss removes debris from between the teeth where your toothbrush cannot reach.
People who have difficulty handling dental floss may prefer to use another kind of interdental cleaner. These aids include special brushes, picks or sticks. If you use interdental cleaners, ask your dentist about how to use them properly to avoid injuring your gums. 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. For more information about the proper way to clean your teeth and gums, visit the American Dental Association Web site at www.ada.org. © 2017 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.