Floss First, Or Brush First?

The other day we were getting ready for work and I noticed that Kish flossed her teeth before brushing.  I follow the opposite approach.  My morning routine is inviolate:  first brushing, then flossing, then use of the mini-bottle brushes for the “food trap” spaces between my teeth, and then finally pressing this weird rubber tip device against my gums.  (Why do I do all of this stuff?  My dentist recommends it and says I will lose my teeth if I don’t spend every waking hour focused with laser-like intensity exclusively on dental care issues.)

Kish’s use of a different approach made me wonder whether there is a “right” order to the brushing and flossing activities.  Surprisingly, it turns out that there has been a lot of chatter about this.  Some people say floss first, so that the brushing can whisk away the plaque that has been loosened by flossing.  Others say brush first, and then the flossing will sweep away the remaining toothpaste grit.  I brush first because I am desperate to get rid of the disgusting morning breath in my mouth before I do anything else.

Some quick internet research determined that the American Dental Association has actually considered this issue.  They conclude that it really doesn’t make any difference what order you follow, so long as you both brush and floss.  I briefly wondered whether any research had been done before this pronouncement was issued, or whether it was of dubious scientific merit — like the chewing gum ads that said 7 out of 10 dentists recommended a particular gum for their patients who chew gum.  Then I realized that it was an incredibly boring topic, anyway, and I had spent more than enough time getting to the bottom of it.