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Should I Brush or Floss First?

a young woman looking unsure as her finger presses on her chin and her eyes look sideways“What should I do first, brush or floss?”

As dentists, this feels like an age-old question for us. In all honesty, when anyone asks us this, we usually don’t have a definitive answer because there have always been differing theories. Until now!



a toothbrush, toothpaste and dental floss on a grey surface

Brushing vs. Flossing

The argument that you should brush first comes from the idea that brushing removes the initial buildup of plaque on the teeth. If you floss afterwards, you might pull some of the remaining fluoride in between your teeth—a good way of cleaning difficult-to-reach areas and removing plaque.

On the other hand, it could be argued that flossing first loosens plaque, bacteria and food debris from between your teeth. This can then be scraped away easily when you brush your teeth afterwards.

Both of these theories have battled each other for years, but a recent study suggests that one method is actually more effective. But which one?


…Flossing first, brushing second.



A ripped piece of paper with the word WHY? typed underneath


The results support the argument that flossing first is best for your oral health. During the clinical trial, they found that there was a larger reduction of interdental plaque in the group who flossed first, and a higher level of fluoride found between the teeth.



A woman cleaning her teeth with dental floss

Importance of Flossing

This research really does highlight the importance of flossing and interdental cleaning. The fact that the order in which you floss and brush can make a big difference to your dental health shows that both practices are very important.

According to a YouGov Poll, 68% of Brits don’t floss their teeth at all! This is worrying, because in addition to brushing twice a day, the national guidelines recommend that everyone over the age of 12 should use an interdental brush or floss to prevent gum disease and tooth decay.



How We Can Help

We hope this article has given you some food for thought about flossing, as well as the importance of maintaining good oral hygiene.

Here at GDC Liverpool, we’re not just cosmetic specialists. We also offer general dental health care, including preventative care and oral hygiene advice. Take a look here to find out more, or fill in our contact form to arrange an appointment.

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