A few patients have asked me this question and it is a great question.
The current American Dental Association (ADA) guidelines do not have a specific recommendation on whether to brush or floss first. However, the ADA recommends flossing at least once a day. There is evidence out there suggesting flossing before brushing is beneficial. There is also evidence out there suggesting brushing before flossing is beneficial. The bottom line is that if you are flossing correctly daily, it really does not matter the order.
Let me explain the philosophy behind each and you can decide (but it really doesn’t matter.)
Flossing BEFORE brushing means you are dislodging food particles to allow your toothpaste to get in between your teeth—no obstructions.
Brushing BEFORE flossing means your floss is able to “get up” in between your teeth, allowing the toothpaste to get in all the little crevices that your toothbrush may have missed. Both seem like the optimal way. However, don’t forget that your technique using floss and other dental aids is VERY important. If you are not using floss correctly, then the order in which you brush or floss doesn’t even matter.
The real answer is individualized patient care. Dentistry is not a “one size fits all.” Your dental provider should ask you about your current dental routine to customize your individualized homecare plan for optimum oral health.
In addition to brushing, adding floss to your routine is the gold standard to achieve/maintain peak oral health. Unfortunately, many patients are not able or simply do not want to use floss. Tight teeth, flossing technique, open spaces, arthritis, large hands and floss that breaks are a few reasons patients choose not to floss.
There are SO many dental aides that are available for your dental provider to recommend.
Some of these include:
- soft picks
- floss picks
- proxy brushes
- floss handle
- water flossers
- Stim U Dents
Your dental provider is here for you! Having an open discussion about your dental routine with your provider helps us understand you and your individualized needs.
Cheers to oral health!