What’s Better: To Floss or Brush Your Teeth First?

Have you ever wondered whether you should brush or floss first? Since the dawn of oral hygiene, this age-old question has haunted dentists and many people alike, but science has finally settled this long debate! 

Should I Brush or Floss First?

We are excited to be able to finally provide our patients with an answer to this burning question. You can rest easy knowing that the American Association of Orthodontists has cited recent studies showing that there is, in fact, an ideal sequence to your nightly oral hygiene routine. The verdict: it is more effective to floss before brushing!

Why is it better to floss before brushing?

Before we get into the science, it’s important to point out that brushing before you floss is not bad for your teeth — the essential point is that you should remember to brush twice a day for two minutes and floss at least once a day. Once you’ve achieved that level of oral hygiene, we can start to think about the process in greater detail. Researchers and dentists alike have noticed a significant difference in oral health when patients floss first. Here are some of the noticeable benefits of flossing your teeth before brushing them:

  • Less Plaque: Plaque is one of the leading causes of gum disease, so removing plaque efficiently is extremely important. According to a study published in the Journal of Periodontology, it has been shown that flossing before brushing leaves significantly less plaque residue on the teeth. Flossing before allows you to loosen and remove the food and bacteria between your teeth. Brushing right after will remove anything left behind in the flossing process. 
  • More Fluoride: The study also concluded that participants who brushed after flossing saw a significant increase in the amount of fluoride remaining in the mouth after their nighttime dental routine. Fluoride is an essential mineral found in most toothpaste that strengthens your enamel and helps prevent cavities and tooth decay. Flossing, then brushing, allows the fluoride to better sink between your teeth and enter areas where food could have previously been trapped.
  • Lower Risk of Gum Disease: Brushing can push plaque and food particles into your gums, causing gingivitis. If left untreated, it can turn into periodontal disease or gum disease. Flossing first loosens the particles so you won’t risk brushing food or bacteria into your gum line.
  • Lower Risk of Tooth Decay: Along with a lower risk of gum disease, there is also a noticeable decrease in tooth decay. Since tooth decay is usually caused by extensive plaque buildup, removing that plaque at a more efficient rate by flossing before brushing will help prevent tooth decay. 

Other Tips for Brushing and Flossing

As a regular dental hygiene reminder, make sure to brush your teeth as soon as you can after eating (especially before you go to bed) and floss once a day. It is also important to avoid sugary drinks and sweets. They can cause tooth decay and lead to painful dental conditions that are sometimes difficult to treat.

dental assistant using floss on a patient with braces

Visit Your Local Syracuse Orthodontist Today!

Here at SKS Orthodontics, your local Syracuse orthodontist, we are proud to have everything you need to know about whether you should brush or floss first and why!

One of the best ways to prevent oral health issues when receiving orthodontic treatment is to visit your orthodontist regularly. Visiting your orthodontic professional every two to six months allows us to oversee your oral health, ensure your teeth are developing toward a healthy smile and that you are staying on track with your treatment plan. Contact us at SKS Orthodontics to schedule a free consultation today!

Ready to transform your smile?

Our Locations


404 E. Genesee St.
Fayetteville, NY 13066
(315) 458-0020

North Syracuse

7334 Buckley Rd.
North Syracuse, NY 13212
(315) 458-0020


633 W. Third St.
Fulton, NY 13069
(315) 458-0020

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