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Should I Mouthwash, Brush, or Floss First?

Looking to optimize your oral care routine? We think that’s a pretty bright idea. Afterall, if you’re going to invest the time and diligence into keeping your mouth clean, you might as well achieve the best possible results, right? So, let’s make sure that smile continues to brighten people’s days. As an avid brusher, flosser and mouthwash-er, here’s what to keep in mind when crafting your perfect oral care routine.

What’s the best order of operations?

Generally, the best order of oral care operations is to first brush your teeth, then floss them, then follow up with a mouthwash. However, this routine can be altered a bit depending on your mindset. It’s best to choose a “good” process that you’ll actually stick to as opposed to striving for the “perfect” one that you may have trouble staying motivated to maintain.

For instance, some people find flossing to be the most labor-intensive and least exciting part of the process. So, if you feel like you may not give flossing your full attention if you do it after you’ve already brushed, it’s ok to bump it up to the front of your oral routine and brush afterwards. For more insight into why we usually recommend a brush->floss->mouthwash routine though, it’s helpful to understand the main function of each part of the process and how they fit together. A glance at the oral care production line, if you will.

What does brushing do?

As we’ve all been told since preschool, brushing is a must. When you brush, you loosen and remove food particles and plaque from the surfaces of your teeth and along your gums. Brushing is your first line of defense against tooth decay and gum disease, and you should do it 2-3 times a day for 2 minutes per session. But while brushing is great, it does have some blind spots. That’s where flossing comes into the picture.

What does flossing do?

Flossing is like brushing’s high-profile sidekick: while brushing gets rid of most of the food particles in your mouth, flossing gets down in the nitty gritty cracks and crevices, removing what we in the biz’ call “interdental plaque” – debris that hides out between your pearly whites. Although you may not see or feel this interdental plaque in the same way that you would if it were out on the open surfaces of your teeth, it can still contribute to tooth and gum issues if not addressed.

The ADA recommends that you floss at least once per day, but you can absolutely make it a follow-up to both your daily brushing sessions, and even floss after every meal if you find it helpful. And if having fun while you floss is a priority, we’ve got just the string.

What does mouthwash do?

Whew, so you’ve completed the first 2 movements of your toothcare trio. Now it’s on to the final rinse cycle. Finishing up with a mouthwash can prove advantageous for a variety of reasons. From a strictly aesthetic perspective, it may feel amazing to enjoy a refreshing rinse reward after you’ve brushed and flossed – and an infusion of minty breath can lead to increased self-confidence 😉 But following up with a mouthwash can also help remove germs and nasty bits that your brushing and flossing efforts might have missed. So, tack it on to your oral care routine. Best swishes!

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about the author

Lawrence Fung is a dentist, entrepreneur, and one of our expert contributors here on the hello blog. After earning his DDS at the University of Southern California’s School of Dentistry, Lawrence served as a General Dentist in the US Navy for four years. Since then, he’s mixed his dental credentials with his love for startups by founding SiliconBeach.Dental, a new breed of dental clinic in LA that leverages tech to make high-quality care more accessible and friendlier than ever before. When he’s not challenging the dental status quo, Lawrence reps his beloved Trojans, crushes hotdog-eating contests, and loves yodeling.

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