Many of us, including me, were taught to brush our teeth and then use floss to remove anything the toothbrush missed. Even dental hygienists floss after they’re finished brushing our teeth. This raises the question: Does it make a difference if you floss before or after brushing?
Here’s what the American Dental Association says about when to floss, and why some believe flossing first is better. For more, here’s whether you should brush your teeth before or after breakfast.
What’s the reason for flossing first?
A small 2018 study of two test groups showed flossing before brushing reduced whole plaque significantly more compared with those who brushed before flossing. Fluoride concentrations were also much higher in those who flossed first. But there wasn’t a significant difference in marginal plaque between the two groups.
Flossing helps to loosen plaque and stuck food residue between teeth to help prevent tartar buildup. Sensodyne says that flossing before you brush can result in more particles getting flushed out from those hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth, while also retaining more fluoride.
What if you’ve been flossing after you brush your teeth?
If you were taught to floss your teeth after you brush, don’t fret. As long as you’re flossing once per day, you’re already one step ahead.
It also doesn’t matter what time of day you floss. For instance, if you’d rather floss in the morning instead of the evening, you can. As long as you do a thorough job, it doesn’t matter when you floss, according to Mouth Healthy, an ADA site.
The bottom line? Just make sure you’re flossing once a day for your tooth and gum health.