Should I Brush or Floss First?

Floss or Brush First

I get asked this question all the time.  In fact, as I sat down to write this blog, Randy, our business computer networking master and wizard was in my office.  I told him what I was writing about and he reminded me that he had asked me this question too.

So which is it?  Brush or floss first?

The New York Times had an article addressing the question and offering an answer (  In their article they report,

…Dentists have opinions on the matter.  Dr. Edmond R. Hewlett, a spokesman for the American Dental Association and a professor of restorative dentistry at the University of California, Los Angeles, recommends flossing first.  His rationale?  Get the unpleasant task out of the way to avoid the temptation to not do it.  “
By contrast, Dr. Philippe Hujoel, a professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington in Seattle, advises his patients to brush with a fluoride toothpaste, and then floss.  That way your mouth will be awash with fluoride as you are maneuvering the floss.

I encourage my patients to floss first and then brush.  My reasoning?  By flossing first you remove food film and particles from between your teeth, drawing them out onto readily accessible surfaces.  You then brush those surfaces and get a more thorough self-cleaning.

At Cannon Family Dental we use an instrument called a periodontal probe to measure gum pocket depths around all of the teeth and record those depths, as well as any points of inflammation.  We then calculate the percentage of probing sites that were inflamed and share the information with each patient.  Those who floss are much healthier—they enjoy reduced inflammation and cavities.

In reality, I am happy when a patient reports to me that they floss daily.  I don’t care if they floss before or after brushing.  But my routine is…floss first.

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