Which Comes First? Brushing or Flossing?

Poppy Thomas-Hill [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The good news is that about half of all American’s brush their teeth at least twice a day. However, only about 40 percent floss on a daily basis. About 20 percent of people in America say they never floss their teeth, but a recent survey done by Delta Dental found a strong link between daily flossing and optimal oral health.

One research study found that people who floss their teeth in addition to brushing had a reduced rate of gingivitis, when compared to those who only brush. There is only a small amount of evidence that shows flossing plus brushing might be associated with a reduction in plaque.

You Need to Do Both

Dr. Philippe Hujoel, the professor of oral health sciences at the University of Washington at Seattle, recommends his patients loss their teeth daily, even though he reports “Self-flossing clinical trials have failed to show a benefit in the reduction of dental decay.”

Getting one’s teeth professionally flossed has been shown to be highly beneficial. Children who had their teeth professionally flossed every day for a year and a half had a nearly 40 percent lowered risk of decay. With this information in mind, does it matter if flossing is done before or after brushing?

Which Should You Do First?

The basics of healthy dental care includes brushing and flossing on a daily basis. Whether a person brush’s or floss’s first will depend on who you consult with. Some dentists recommend flossing first because it gets it done and lessens the risk a person may skip it if they brush first.
More than half of all people in the United States brush before flossing, while the rest floss before brushing.

Flossing: Are You Doing it Right?

The method a person uses to floss is more important than when it’s done. The American Dental Association recommends a five step method for proper flossing:

• Start with about 12-16 inches of floss. Wind it around your middle finger and wind the rest around the middle finger of your other hand.
• Hold the floss tight between your thumbs and forefingers.
• Gently guide dental floss between the teeth and use a gentle back and forth rubbing motion. Do not snap the floss against your gums.
• At your gum line, curve the floss gently using a C-shape against your tooth. Slide it back and forth between the gum line and your teeth.
• Holding the floss tightly against your tooth, gently rub it up and down. Repeat this motion on the rest of your teeth including the back side of your last tooth.

Other Tips for Healthy Teeth

The two greatest habits of good dental health are brushing and flossing. Exposing teeth to sugary foods is the main reason for dental decay and other oral issues. Proper dental hygiene is important to optimal dental health and for the rest of your body. With regular brushing and flossing and other good oral hygiene habits you ca have a beautiful smile and healthy, pearly whites.


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