DR. MITCH: ​Floss First and Then Brush or ...?

It's reassuring that in this age of increasing world tensions, climate change with horrendous storms and pollution continuing to threaten our health and happiness, that we still have time to deal with something as fundamental as whether you should floss first and then brush your teeth or do it in the opposite order. 

Someone has finally done the study that will give us the answer. Drum roll please.... Floss then brush seems to be more effective at reducing the amount of plaque and also elevating the levels of fluoride retained by the teeth. 

This is worth knowing because anything that will reduce the risk of gum disease is important. Periodontitis (the scientific name for inflammation and infection of the gums) is associated with an increased risk  of developing diabetes, strokes, heart disease, premature births and low birth weight babies. We think that brushing and flossing will help to reduce this risk by reducing gingivitis, the first stage in this disease process. And now we know the order that will make this process more efficient.

Having said that, I must admit that the scientific evidence that flossing reduces gingivitis and periodontitis is very limited. In spite of that most dentists still think it works and so if you're going to do it, you might as well do it right!