Brushing and Flossing or is it Flossing and Brushing?

Most of the dental advertisements say brushing and flossing. However this has always been one of my pet peeves. After all these years I would think these companies would get it right.  It makes no sense to brush your teeth then floss and have all that food remnant left behind. The proper way is to floss 1st then brush. Let me clarify this more. Flossing actually loosens the debris and the brushing removes the debris from you mouth.

Flossing is an essential part of the tooth-cleaning process because it removes plaque from between teeth and at the gumline, where periodontal disease often begins. If you find using floss awkward or difficult, ask your dental hygienist about the variety of dental floss holders or interdental cleaning devices that are available.

Proper Flossing Instructions

Wind 18″ of floss around middle fingers of each hand. A good way to measure your floss distance is from  from you fingers to your elbow. Pinch floss between thumbs and index fingers, leaving a 1″- 2″ length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth.

Keep a 1″ – 2″ length of floss taut between fingers. Use index fingers to guide floss between contacts of the lower teeth. Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. What I always teach is keeping the floss tight on the tooth as you are creating a tight C shape. Gently wrap floss around the side of the tooth. Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gumline. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.

Proper Brushing Instructions

Place bristles along the gumline at a 45-degree angle. Bristles should contact both the tooth surface and the gum-line. Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces of 2-3 teeth using a vibrating back & forth rolling motion. A rolling motion is when the brush makes contact with the gumline and is moved downward toward the chewing surface. Move brush to the next group of two to three teeth and repeat.

Maintain a 45-degree angle with bristles contacting the tooth surface and gumline. Gently brush using back, forth, and rolling motion along all of the inner tooth surfaces.

Tilt brush vertically behind the front teeth. Make several up & down strokes using the front half of the brush. Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth & use a gentle back & forth scrubbing motion. Brush the tongue from back to front to remove odor-producing bacteria.


Remember to replace your toothbrush every three to four months. Researchers have established that thousands of microbes grow on toothbrush bristles and handles. Most are harmless, but others can cause cold and flu viruses, the herpes virus that causes cold sores, and bacteria that can cause periodontal infections.


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