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Chicken or the Egg: Should I Floss Before or After Brushing?

Jul 11, 2018
Any family dentist in Scottsdale will likely tell you that one of the most common questions asked by patients is whether they should floss before or after they brush their teeth.

Any family dentist in Scottsdale will likely tell you that one of the most common questions asked by patients is whether they should floss before or after they brush their teeth. Unfortunately, if you’re here for a concrete answer as to which option is “right” and which one is “wrong,” you might have to look elsewhere. The answer to this age-old “chicken or the egg” type question isn’t so simple.

First and foremost, if you’re asking this question, you’re already lightyears ahead of a lot of your fellow patients. The sad fact of the matter is that many people simply don’t floss. They objectively know that they ought to, but they instead just rely on brushing for oral hygiene.

However, brushing isn’t enough to preserve the health of your teeth. Anyone providing dental health care in Scottsdale will tell you that brushing is inadequate because it can’t get into crevices and tight spaces the way that flossing can. Conversely, flossing doesn’t clean the surface of the teeth the way that brushing does. If you want a healthy mouth, you need to brush and floss.

To answer the original question, here are some things you should know about how you order activities in your oral hygiene routine, courtesy of the talented staff behind the best dental care in Scottsdale AZ.

It Doesn’t Really Matter

No, it doesn’t really matter which order you brush and floss. Most people seem to be under the impression that it’s essential to floss first, based on the idea that flossing “loosens up” the plague and bacteria, thereby allowing it to be brushed away easily.

However, this is not the right mindset to have when you’re flossing. Flossing isn’t about “loosening up” plaque, but rather about removing it entirely. You should be working slowly when you floss and you should be able to see actual plaque come off on your floss string or pick.

If you’re rushing through your flossing routine just to get it over and done with, chances are that you’re not flossing effectively. The average person has 28 teeth in their mouth, so effectively flossing all of them should take a little time. Ideally, you should be flossing for about two minutes, the same amount of time it takes to brush your teeth.

When it comes to the order that you floss and brush, it all comes down to personal preference. If you prefer doing it first, then do it first. Otherwise, floss after you brush and before you gargle with mouthwash.

Understanding How Often You Should Floss

Another common question that the average family dentist hears all the time is how often a person should be flossing. It’s important that you floss every night before going to bed. However, you don’t need to floss in the morning. The reason you need to brush your teeth in the morning is due to the bacteria that accumulates in your mouth overnight, the same bacteria responsible for “morning breath.” However, chances are that you didn’t consume any food while you were sleeping. It’s unlikely that you have any plaque or buildup between your teeth in the morning if you flossed properly the night before.

However, sometimes it’s wise to floss more than once a day. It’s important to brush after every meal, but if you were eating something especially sticky, such as caramel, it’s a good idea to floss as well. Flossing can also be a good way to achieve comfort if you have something stuck in your teeth, such as popcorn. Many people will try to remove a pesky stuck kernel skin with a fingernail or the corner of a business card, but this isn’t great for your teeth. Instead, floss can be used to safely remove it.

Essentially, when in doubt, floss. While it’s possible to floss too much, it’s highly unlikely for the average person and typically the result of some sort of psychological issue, such as obsessive compulsive disorder. The average person doesn’t need to worry about “over-flossing.” If you think that your mouth could benefit from flossing after a meal, then go ahead and floss away.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

If you have questions about flossing or aren’t sure whether or not you’re doing it correctly, your dentist can help you to get on the right track. Don’t be embarrassed if you think you could use a refresher on the proper flossing technique, as a lack of knowledge about flossing is sadly all too common.

If you’re looking for the best dental care in Scottsdale AZ, contact us today to book an appointment. We’re happy to help you to perfect your flossing technique, in addition to other services, such as cosmetic dentistry, whitening and other dental procedures.