Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

Flossing Before vs. After Brushing?

For many people, this isn’t even really a question—many have grown up doing it one way or the other and they probably never even considered doing it any other way. Most will likely assume that brushing and flossing on a regular basis is enough, regardless of the order in which they are done. While it’s true that they both play a role in proper dental care and both should be done regularly, studies have indicated that the order is more important than you might think.

So which way is better?

Many people assume that brushing is the more important of the two activities, and therefore, should come first. We say brush and floss, after all, not the other way around. Many people are comfortable brushing without flossing, but few would floss without brushing. Flossing may be an afterthought for them and may even be forgotten much of the time. Both are important, however, and studies have shown which one should come first. So, which is it?

dental flossing and brushing tips


Brushing cleans your teeth by sweeping away plaque, bits of food, and more. This helps to prevent cavities. Flossing also removes food and plaque but reaches between the teeth and under the gums where a toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing is therefore important in helping to thoroughly clean your teeth.

The main problem with flossing after you brush is that some of the food, plaque, and bacteria that flossing releases from between the teeth will remain in your mouth until the next time you brush. In a report titled The Effect of Toothbrushing and Flossing Sequence on Interdental Plaque Reduction and Fluoride Retention: A Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial, participants were asked to brush their teeth followed by flossing during the first phase of the study and then reverse the order for the second phase.

What researchers found was that during the second phase (floss then brush) the amount of plaque between the teeth and in the mouth was reduced significantly. When flossing, bacteria and plaque lodged between the teeth are loosened and displaced, making it easier for proper brushing to remove them. Additionally, clearing out the spaces between your teeth also allows for greater coverage and penetration by the fluoride in your toothpaste when brushing.

Removing debris and bacteria from between your teeth helps ensure that your mouth is as clean as possible and helps prevent gum disease, which can occur when there is a buildup of plaque and bacteria on the surface of the teeth. Signs of gum disease include bad breath, loose teeth, bleeding gums, or gums that are swollen, red, and tender. Left untreated, gum disease, or periodontal disease, can lead to gum recession and tooth loss.

flossing teeth before brushing

The study also revealed that when flossing before brushing, fluoride from toothpaste will stay in the mouth longer and at higher levels.

Both flossing and brushing are important to your dental health, which contributes to your overall well-being. Remembering to do both every day—and in the right order—will help you make the most of your dental care routine.

To talk to our experienced dentists about your dental care, call the Kherani Dental at Aspen team today at (403) 263-0055 to make an appointment or book online now.

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