Preventive Dentistry |4 min read

Should You Brush or Floss First? The Ultimate Guide to Oral Hygiene

A couple is in the bathroom - one brushing and one flossing their teeth

Looking to perfect your oral hygiene routine?

Brushing and flossing daily are key components of a good oral care routine, and can keep you healthy and smiling for life.

However, a common question often arises: “Should you brush or floss first?”

This comprehensive guide will delve into this topic and provide expert advice on the best practices for brushing and flossing.

Let’s explore the benefits of each method and determine whether the order of brushing and flossing truly makes a difference.

Should You Brush or Floss First?

Choosing to brush or floss first can have a surprisingly significant effect on your oral health, so it’s definitely worth considering.

Some experts recommend brushing first, while others suggest flossing first.

The short answer? It depends on your personal preference. With proper technique, it doesn’t much matter where you start.

Brushing before flossing removes larger food particles, which just leaves small leftovers between your teeth to floss away.

Flossing first dislodges plaque and bacteria right away, which your toothbrush can then brush away easily.

Regardless of the order you pick, consistent and thorough brushing and flossing are vital for maintaining good oral hygiene.

Why Regular Brushing and Flossing Matters

Brushing twice a day (and flossing at least once a day) removes plaque, a sticky film of bacteria that forms on your teeth and gums.

Plague accumulation can lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

Worse still, plaque hardens into tartar after just 48 hours, which won’t come off no matter how much you scrub. Tartar can only be removed by a dental professional at a hygiene appointment.

Regular brushing with a soft-bristle toothbrush, accompanied by flossing, is crucial for preventing these problems and maintaining a healthy smile.

The Benefits of Brushing

Prevents tooth decay: Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste helps remove food particles and bacteria that can cause cavities. Fluoride also strengthens tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay.

Freshens breath: Bad breath, or halitosis, often stems from poor oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day helps eliminate odor-causing bacteria, leaving your breath fresh and clean.

Reduces the risk of gum disease: Brushing properly removes plaque from the gum line, preventing the development of gum disease.

Gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, can cause red, swollen gums that bleed easily.

Regular brushing helps prevent gingivitis from progressing into more severe forms of gum disease.

Improving overall health: Maintaining good oral hygiene through brushing can positively impact your health.

Poor oral health has been linked to various systemic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory infections.

The Benefits of Flossing

Flossing is an often overlooked, yet crucial part of maintaining good oral hygiene.

While brushing cleans most surfaces of your teeth, flossing targets the spaces between your teeth and along the gumline.

Here are some key benefits of incorporating flossing into your oral care routine.

Removes plaque and debris: Brushing alone cannot effectively remove plaque and food particles trapped between your teeth. Flossing helps dislodge these substances, preventing plaque buildup and reducing the risk of cavities.

Prevents gum disease: Gum disease often starts in areas toothbrushes can’t reach. Flossing keeps these spaces clean, reducing inflammation and the risk of gum disease.

Promotes fresh breath: Trapped food particles and bacteria can contribute to bad breath. By eliminating these sources of odor, flossing helps keep your breath fresh.

Preserves tooth structure: When plaque accumulates between teeth, it can contribute to tooth decay and even tooth loss, and the same is true of gum disease.

Regular flossing helps maintain the integrity of your teeth and minimizes the need for extensive dental treatments.


Maintaining proper oral hygiene is essential for a healthy smile and overall well-being, and can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues.

By incorporating these practices into your daily routine, you can enjoy the benefits of a clean and healthy mouth.

Remember to brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss once a day, and schedule regular dental check-ups (once every six months at least).

By prioritizing your oral health and adopting good habits, you can achieve a bright, confident smile that lasts a lifetime.

Take control of your dental health today! Get in touch with us to schedule a cleaning or get more tips about proper oral care techniques.

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The Gorman Center for Fine Dentistry is located in North Oaks, MN, and welcomes patients from all surrounding areas and those around the country.


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