Brush First? Floss First?



Human beings stood on the moon in 1969! We must be infinitely smarter, wiserand thoughtful by now; just look at how technology has exploded and how much information we have at our fingertips.

One great example: the ultrasonic toothbrush. So awesome that it was given to me in gratitude for having helped save someone’s injured finger! I was skeptical at first, but I must now admit the technology of the brush is spectacular. I had to read the instruction

booklet; this thing has five settings and stops at intervals to notify you to move to a new area. I can’t make the toothpaste last without having to “recharge”- and you have to stop the brush completely to add more. You have to have it fully in your mouth before turning it on- or the bathroom is sprayed with toothpaste. It vibrates your entire head and tries to turn it into pudding if you accidentally touch your teeth with the stem rather than the bristles. You have to remember where you stopped if you recharge the toothpaste because you only have four cycles to complete everything. It’s like trying to keep a dozen plates spinning on sticks while eating a sundae and keeping the ice cream and hot fudge in equal portions so they both last to the end.

I asked my hygienist if I should floss before or after I use this big bad machine. She said it’s better to floss first, but the dentist she works for thinks it’s better to brush first. Not very reassuring. Any thoughts, Apollo 11?

I searched and asked and thought about this a lot. The real answer: doesn’t matter in the United States- no one knows. Some argue that flossing first clears the space between the teeth and allows the fluoride in the toothpaste to better cover all tooth surfaces. Others say that it “feels better” and fresher when you floss first. The brush first advocates say that brushing removes plaque that might be driven deeper between the teeth by flossing. I even read some opinions that we should “brush, floss then re-brush” f or maximum results. I think the Apollo 11 astronauts might have missed their flight if they had to spend that much time with dental hygiene. The Canadian Dental Association says in their literature: “Brush your teeth after you floss- it is a more effective method of preventing tooth decay and gum disease.”

I’m going with the Canadians on this. Did we really deserve to get to the moon first?