Oral hygiene routine: Should you brush or floss first?

Studies reveal that sequence of brushing and flossing actually makes a significant difference on your oral health and hygiene.

Does it matter whether you brush or floss first? Based on several studies, yes, the right sequence can significantly improve your oral hygiene routine.

According to a research published in the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), the practice of flossing before brushing is actually the better choice. Twenty-five participants were asked to do both the “brush-floss” and the “floss-brush” sequence in two-week intervals. The results reveal that the amount of plaque was remarkably reduced using the “floss-brush” approach.

The research also showed that the “floss-brush” sequence allows increased fluoride concentration from the toothpaste to strengthen the enamel and make it resistant to decay.

Don’t toss the floss

Most people are accustomed to routine brushing twice a day but find the practice of flossing an additional chore. However, flossing your teeth should not be skipped just because your mouth feels clean after you brush.

Flossing removes plaque and food debris in between teeth which the toothbrush bristles cannot reach. When done right and practiced daily, it reduces the risk of cavities, tooth decay, and periodontal or gum disease.

Floss the right way

When you floss, make sure that you follow the steps to effectively clean out your interdental spaces.

  1. Break off a portion of your dental floss (around 18 to 24 inches).
  2. Coil the ends of the floss around both of your middle fingers, leaving only about 1-2 inches.
  3. Hold the floss tightly using your thumb and index fingers.
  4. Place the floss in between teeth, carefully sliding the floss up and down.
  5. Curve the floss at the base of the tooth to form a C shape and let the floss enter the spaces between your gums and your tooth. Repeat steps from tooth to tooth, using a clean section of floss.


Mazhari, F, Boskabady, M, Moeintaghavi, A, Habibi, A. The effect of toothbrushing and flossing sequence on interdental plaque reduction and fluoride retention: A randomized controlled clinical trial. J Periodontol. 2018; 89: 824– 832. DOI: 10.1002/JPER.17-0149

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