There’s no doubt you’ve been at a dentist’s appointment where the dentist seems to have a superhuman ability to tell whether you’ve been flossing. But there’s also no doubt that flossing is an essential part of a good oral hygiene routine while often neglected. Regularly brushing and flossing reduces the risk of tooth decay, cavities, and gingivitis. Here’s a technicality, though, that you might not have thought about: should you floss before or after brushing your teeth?
In this post, we’re going to explore how brushing and flossing keep your teeth and gums in top shape. We’ll also see whether you should floss before or after brushing and whether it makes any difference at all.
Flossing: The Missing Link
Flossing your teeth is incredibly important. When you eat, bits of food get stuck in the spaces available in your mouth. Their hiding places include the gaps of your teeth and the space between your gums. These spaces harbor bacteria just like the rest of the mouth, but that’s perfectly normal, as some friendly bacteria are good for oral health.
However, when they have access to food, these bacteria get to work feeding on the debris and creating waste byproducts. Therefore, a thin, sticky film of bacteria accumulates in the mouth, called plaque.
Although brushing alone is pretty effective at getting rid of this film, there are still those hiding places in your mouth that a toothbrush cannot reach.
Does it Matter if You Floss Before or After Brushing?
In short, yes. You should floss your teeth before you brush them.
This order is significant. When you brush your teeth, the brush’s mechanical action combines with your toothpaste’s detergent properties. Both come together to physically dislodge and remove the bits of debris and plaque film that you’ve cleaned off your teeth.
If you floss after you brush, the added particles and film that you’re dislodging from the gaps in your teeth don’t have anywhere to go until the next time you brush. They continue to sit inside your mouth and in contact with your teeth and gums. This allows the bacteria to continue to contribute to periodontal disease.
So the best advice is to floss before you brush. It makes perfect sense because the floss will dislodge the debris in those hard-to-reach places and leave them ready for your toothbrush and toothpaste to get rid of.
Once you’ve flossed, brushed, and spit, a lot more particulate matter is eliminated. This leaves your mouth much cleaner than brushing alone.
The Bottom Line: The Order Matters
So to answer the question: should you floss before or after brushing your teeth? You should floss first and brush afterward for a cleaner, fresher feeling in your mouth.
Remember, our expert family dentists at Mission Bend Family Dentistry have a lot of experience setting good habits and brushing routines for the entire family. Give us a call at (832) 895-5110, and we’ll be happy to answer any questions and get you on the right track for lifelong dental health.