Patients always ask if you should floss before or after brushing your teeth. If you think about it, you probably already know the answer.
Only about one-third of adults in the U.S. floss every day. And honestly, even those people are probably flossing wrong. Or only twice a day.
What?! Am I supposed to floss more than twice a day?
It’ll impress your dentist, but — more importantly — it will save you money in the long run.
Plus, flossing twice in the morning and twice t night really doesn’t add much time to your routine!
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Do You Floss Before or After Brushing?
All of that is to say that the answer to whether you floss before or after brushing is: Yes.
We recommend flossing with traditional wax floss or a floss pick before brushing. Then follow up by flossing with a Waterpik or more regular floss after brushing.
Most dentists recommend flossing your teeth before brushing. This loosens up the debris and plaque on your teeth, so you get a closer brush on your actual enamel. This leaves your breath feeling fresher and your teeth looking brighter.
So it’s not really a question of “do you brush or floss first” but rather, what type of floss should you use before and after brushing your teeth?
There’s still the question of which type of floss to use during this before and after flossing method.
Does it even matter?
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Types of Floss
There are 3 types of floss, and — believe it or not— they all serve a different purpose:
This floss works better at getting in between the crevices of your teeth and behind your back molars. It’s why your dental hygienist still uses it before they do your teeth cleaning. See? You knew this all along!).
This used to be used exclusively in dentist offices. But now, you can get your own for less than $75 to use at home. These actually work better than string floss at reducing plaque and gingivitis. So it’s worth having around.
These are probably the least effective method for flossing your teeth, especially if you’re flossing incorrectly. It just makes it a bit harder to curve around the ‘C’ shape of your teeth (by your gums), so you might not remove as much plaque as you (and your dentist) would like.
However, studies have shown that more people prefer floss picks because they’re easier to use. So, a floss pick might be worth using if you’re trying to make daily flossing a new habit.
We recommend using traditional string or “finger” floss before or after brushing. It might work better before since it’ll loosen the most plaque, but as long as your using it once in your routine.
Here’s a suggestion for the order to floss and brush your teeth:
- Use string floss
- Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
- Floss again using a Waterpik or Floss pick.
But where does mouthwash come into play?
Floss, Brush, Mouthwash Order: What’s the RIGHT Way?
We’re making this seem like a huge ordeal, but this whole routine will take you 5 minutes, tops. And two of those minutes are brushing your teeth.
Here’s the order you’re supposed to follow when you floss, brush, and use mouthwash on your teeth:
- Floss Method #1
- Brush for two minutes (preferably with an electric toothbrush)
- Floss Method #2
Does it matter if you’re flossing or brushing first?
Actually, yeah— it does.
Think about it: If you just go in with a toothbrush before loosening all the knick-knacks in your teeth, there’s a chance they’ll stay there.
Plus, brushing your teeth alone only gets your teeth half clean.
The National Association of Dental Plans says, “If you don’t floss, you miss cleaning 40% of your tooth surfaces. Make sure you brush and floss twice a day! “
So floss, brush, then floss again. If you add an electric toothbrush, good toothpaste, and mouthwash into the mix, you’ll have a killer smile.