Should you brush or floss first?

Researchers have found that flossing before brushing may be the ideal sequence for the most thorough removal of dental plaque. The report is featured in the Journal of Periodontology, which is published by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP).

The study assessed 25 participants, who were asked to brush their teeth first, then use dental floss (brush-floss). In a second phase, the same group was asked to use floss, then brush their teeth (floss-brush). Researchers found that the amount of plaque between the teeth and in the mouth overall was significantly reduced when participants used the floss-brush approach.

The researchers contend that as flossing loosens bacteria and debris from between the teeth, brushing afterward further clears the mouth of these particles.

Dr Steven R. Daniel president of the AAP said: “Patients often ask which step should come first in their daily oral hygiene routine. While this study finds that flossing before brushing may result in the reduction of plaque, it’s important for everyone to remember to do both every day to maintain the health of their smiles”.

The study also found that fluoride, which aids in the prevention of tooth decay, remained in the mouth at higher levels when participants flossed before brushing. Study subjects used a fluoride toothpaste during both phases of the investigation.

The AAP recommends flossing regularly, brushing twice a day and undergoing yearly comprehensive periodontal evaluations for the prevention of gum disease, which is treatable and often reversible with proper and timely care from a periodontist.