• Dr. Barry Yu

SHOULD I BRUSH FIRST OR FLOSS FIRST?

Updated: Sep 9, 2019

I have been told to brush our teeth twice a day and floss between our teeth at least once a day since I was a kid (at least for me). But nobody told me if I should brush first or floss first.


That might seem like a no-brainer but that has been a very popular question I get from my patients.

There’s a lot of different views to that question, but I like this one the best because that’s what I’ve been doing all these years. According to a report featured in the Journal of Periodontology (JOP), which is published by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), flossing before brushing may reduce dental plaque and help maximize the benefits of cavity-fighting fluoride.


Although there is research supporting that flossing before brushing is the ideal sequence for removing plaque, I believe as long as you do a thorough job with both flossing and brushing, the difference should be minimal. It’s more like a personal preference. I floss my teeth before brushing simply because I like having the minty fresh feeling after brushing. I will also top it off with fluoridated mouthwash afterwards. That’s how I developed my daily routine.


Keep in mind, just brushing alone isn’t enough. There are 32 teeth in your mouth (if you didn’t get any of the wisdom teeth or any other teeth out for any reasons), so there will be a lot of interproximal spaces that your toothbrush can’t reach. If you floss only once a week, that means all those interproximal spaces will only get cleaned once a week. It’s like telling yourself it is okay to brush your teeth once a week. Can you stand that? I can’t. So please, try to put in as much effort as possible to brush your teeth twice a day, and floss at least once a day if you want to have healthy teeth.


Happy flossing and brushing!

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About Authors

Graduated with honors from the University of California, Davis (U.S.A.), major in biochemistry and molecular biology, Dr. Yu has further obtained his dental degree (Doctor of Dental Medicine) from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine (U.S.A.).  Dr. Yu is qualified to practice in the US, Singapore and Hong Kong, and has over 10 years of practicing experience in the US before starting both practices in Hong Kong and Singapore.

Dr. Chrissie Lam graduated from University of California, Berkeley (U.S.A.) with a bachelor degree in Nutritional Science before earning her doctorate degree in dentistry from University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry (U.S.A.). In her 9 years of practice she took care of her patients, both in U.S.A. and Singapore with her warm demeanor and excellent clinical skills. 

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