Brush Or Floss First: Discover The Ultimate Expert Answer

Should you brush or floss first? If you’ve ever stood in front of your bathroom mirror pondering this age-old question, you’re not alone. We’ve all been there, wondering which step should come first in our quest for a sparkling smile. It’s important to understand proper oral hygiene, as poor habits don’t just lead to cavities and bad breath; they can also contribute to more serious issues like gum disease and even heart problems.

Understanding the Importance of Oral Hygiene

So, what’s the deal with plaque and bacteria? Well, they’re like unwelcome guests at a party—they show up uninvited and cause all sorts of trouble. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth throughout the day, especially after eating. If allowed to sit too long, it may harden into tartar, which a dentist can only scrape off because it is much more difficult to remove.

The consequences of neglecting your oral hygiene can be pretty unpleasant. Cavities, also known as dental caries, are holes that form in your teeth due to decay caused by bacteria feeding on sugars from food and drinks. And let’s not forget about gum disease, which occurs when plaque buildup along the gumline leads to inflammation and infection. This can cause your gums to become red, swollen, and even bleed when you brush or floss. Plus, chronic gum disease has been linked to more serious health issues, like diabetes and heart disease.

Brushing First: Pros and Cons

Benefits of Brushing Before Flossing

brush or floss first

  1. Effective Surface Cleaning: Brushing your teeth initially targets the visible surfaces, helping to eliminate plaque and food debris from the outer layers of your teeth. This action aids in preventing the accumulation of plaque, the formation of cavities, and gum disease.
  2. Enhanced Fluoride Protection: Toothpaste often contains fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel and shields against decay. By brushing first, you give the fluoride in your toothpaste more time to interact with your teeth, providing additional protection against cavities.


  1. Missed Interdental and Gumline Areas: While brushing effectively cleans the surfaces of your teeth, it may not adequately reach the tight spaces between teeth and along the gumline, where plaque and food debris commonly hide. This is where flossing becomes essential to remove these hard-to-reach particles.
  2. Potential Residual Debris: Brushing can loosen plaque and food particles from tooth surfaces. However, if you floss after brushing, there’s a possibility that some of the loosened particles may remain in your mouth rather than being completely removed. This residual debris could contribute to plaque buildup and increase the risk of dental issues over time.

Flossing First

Benefits of Flossing Before Brushing

brush or floss first

  1. Superior Interdental Cleaning: Flossing prior to brushing allows you to target the spaces between your teeth and along the gumline first. This helps dislodge plaque and food particles that brushing alone may not reach, ensuring a more thorough clean.
  2. Preparing Tooth Surfaces: By flossing first, you can remove debris from between your teeth, making it easier for your toothbrush to access all tooth surfaces. This can enhance the effectiveness of brushing and improve the overall cleanliness of your mouth.


  1. Reduced Fluoride Exposure: If you floss before brushing, the fluoride in your toothpaste may not have as much time to interact with your teeth, potentially reducing its protective effects against cavities.
  2. Incomplete Surface Cleaning: While flossing removes debris from between teeth and along the gumline, it may not thoroughly clean the surfaces of your teeth. Brushing after flossing is necessary to ensure all tooth surfaces are adequately cleaned and protected against decay and gum disease.

What Dentists Recommend

Many dental professionals have weighed in on the brush or floss first debate, offering their insights based on scientific evidence and clinical experience. Studies examining the order of brushing and flossing have provided valuable data for dentists to consider when advising patients on their oral hygiene routines.

So, should you brush or floss first ?

While opinions may vary, many dental professionals and a 2018 study suggest flossing before brushing. This approach allows for effective removal of plaque and food debris from between teeth and along the gumline, preparing the surfaces for thorough brushing afterward.

Consistency is Key

While there may not be a one-size-fits-all answer to the brush or floss first dilemma, most dental experts agree that the most important aspect of oral hygiene is consistency.  Regardless of whether you brush or floss first, what matters most is using proper technique and spending an adequate amount of time on each step to ensure thorough cleaning.

The Bottom Line

brush or floss first

While it’s important to consider whether to brush or floss first, taking care of your teeth involves more than just brushing—it’s a team effort between brushing and flossing. Brushing helps clean the surfaces of your teeth, while flossing gets rid of food bits and plaque from the tight spaces between them. Together, they make sure your mouth stays healthy and free from problems like cavities and gum disease.

Other Oral Hygiene Practices for Optimal Oral Health

  1. Mouthwash: Using an antimicrobial mouthwash can help reduce bacteria in your mouth and freshen your breath. Look for mouthwashes with fluoride to strengthen your teeth.
  2. Tongue Cleaning: Don’t forget to clean your tongue! Use a tongue scraper or your toothbrush to gently remove bacteria and debris from the surface of your tongue.
  3. Limit Sugary and Acidic Foods: Sugary and acidic foods can contribute to tooth decay and erosion. Limit your intake of sugary snacks and drinks, and rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods.
  4. Drink Water: Drinking water throughout the day helps wash away food particles and bacteria, keeping your mouth clean and hydrated.
  5. Chew Sugar-Free Gum: Chewing sugar-free gum stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids in your mouth and strengthen tooth enamel.
  6. Use a Mouthguard: If you grind your teeth at night or play contact sports, consider using a mouthguard to protect your teeth from damage.
  7. Avoid Tobacco Products: Smoking and using tobacco products can increase your risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and oral cancer. Quitting tobacco is essential for maintaining oral health.
  8. Visit Your Dentist Regularly: Don’t skip your dental checkups! Regular visits to the dentist for cleanings and exams can catch oral health issues early and prevent them from worsening.
  9. Be Mindful of Your Oral Health: Pay attention to any changes in your mouth, such as tooth sensitivity, bleeding gums, or persistent bad breath. These could be signs of underlying dental problems that require attention.

Let’s Create Your Perfect Smile Together

Apart from taking care of your oral health, it’s essential to get an orthodontic consultation if you notice any crookedness, gaps, or misalignment in your teeth and jaws. Straight teeth are easier to clean and aren’t as susceptible to cavities, discomfort, and injury.

Looking to enhance both your oral health and aesthetics? Look no further! Our orthodontist in Fishkill NY at Northeastern Braces specializes in providing top-notch orthodontic care to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. Whether you’re considering braces or Invisalign treatment, our expert team is dedicated to not only improving the appearance of your smile but also enhancing your overall oral health.


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