So which comes first, the chicken or the egg? I’ve heard arguments from knowledgeable people for one or the other. So which is it?
The main argument for “floss first, then brush” is that flossing is nasty. It’s very important, but kind of gross. Even in the cleanest mouth, the bacteria that you find under your gum line (known as “anaerobes“) is pretty smelly. You get stuff on your hands, you get stuff on the mirror and in general, it’s messy. So if you floss first, then you can brush the nastiness away.
With that said, I’m a strong proponent of “brush first, then floss.” When you brush with toothpaste, you’re removing the bulk of the plaque on the teeth as well as placing fluoride on the teeth. This fluoride helps to remineralize spots on the teeth where cavities have started. However, you can’t really get your brush in the spots between teeth. This is where the flossing comes in. When you floss after you brush, you can force the topical fluoride left behind after brushing into the “in-between” spots. In this way, you’re getting the most benefit of the fluoride from your toothpaste.
So what’s the solution for the nastiness of flossing? My new favorite dental health product: ACT Total Care Mouthwash. I can see the headlines now: “Saginaw Dentist Shills for Big Pharma.” What I like about this stuff is that it tastes really good, like a mouthwash, but also delivers an “over the counter” dose of fluoride as well. There are probably other brands that have both a fresh, minty finish as well as fluoride, but I haven’t seen them yet.
So try both out. See what you think and let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org Honestly, if you’re one of the few people who floss each and every day, I don’t really care when you do it…just keep doing it!