We know that brushing and flossing are both necessary steps toward maintaining a healthy set of chompers. But does it matter which you do first? The short answer is…maybe.
According to the American Dental Association, as long as you’re doing both (brushing twice a day and flossing once), you should be OK. “Some people prefer to floss in the evening before bedtime so that the mouth is clean while sleeping. Others prefer to floss after their midday meal. Still others chose to floss first thing as a part of their morning ritual. The bottom line is that best time to floss is the time that fits well with the individual’s schedule.”
New research published in the Journal of Periodontology, on the other hand, suggests that the order does matter, and that flossing should actually come first. The study assessed 25 participants who tried both orders in separate phases. Researchers concluded that “flossing followed by brushing is preferred to brushing then flossing in order to reduce interdental plaque and increase fluoride concentration in interdental plaque.”
There’s also a third camp. We checked in with Joe Castellano, D.D.S., a pediatric dentist and president of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, who told us, “Brushing should come first. Brushing removes food and plaque that sticks to the grooves and surfaces of the teeth. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends brushing thoroughly for two minutes, twice a day.”
So basically, a clear consensus hasn’t been reached yet, but there’s one thing every party agrees on: brushing and flossing are nonnegotiable. Adjust your morning or bedtime routine accordingly.