carrollwood dentist

Should I Floss Before or After Brushing?

It might seem like a silly question but it’s one we get asked from time to time. You may think that it doesn’t really make any difference if you brush or floss first but it actually does, as concluded by a 2018 clinical study. Here’s why…

The material caught between your teeth, also called interdental plaque, can be removed somewhat by brushing. Flossing is the key to really remove everything lurking between your teeth, though.

However, if you brush first and then floss, that means the fluoride in your toothpaste is not getting into those interdental spaces that still contain plaque. The plaque is essentially blocking the fluoride from reaching between your teeth.

On the other hand, flossing first loosens the plaque and food particles hiding between teeth and thus, results in greater fluoride retention between your teeth. Allowing fluoride to reach the spaces between teeth means you are less likely to get a cavity in these tight spots.

We recommend you first swish with water, then floss and then brush using a proper technique and a soft toothbrush.

Taking good care of your teeth at home and making sure you have preventive dental cleanings twice a year are the best insurance against developing painful and expensive dental problems.

Contact us today to make your dental cleaning appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel location.

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How Often Should I Brush & Floss?

Brushing and flossing help control the plaque and bacteria that cause dental disease. Plaque is a film of food debris, bacteria, and saliva that sticks to the teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque convert certain food particles into acids that cause tooth decay. Also, if plaque is not removed, it turns into calculus (tartar). If plaque and calculus are not removed, they begin to destroy the gums and bone, causing gum disease. Plaque formation and growth is continuous and can only be controlled by regular brushing, flossing, and the use of other dental aids.


Brush your teeth at least twice a day (especially before going to bed at night) for at least two minutes with an ADA approved soft bristle brush and toothpaste.

How to Brush

  • Brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums, gently using a small, circular motion, ensuring that you always feel the bristles on the gums.
  • You don’t need to scrub. That can cause gum damage.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and biting surfaces of each tooth.
  • Use the tip of the brush head to clean the inside front teeth.
  • Brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Electric toothbrushes are also recommended. They are easy to use and can remove plaque efficiently. Simply place the bristles of the electric brush on your gums and teeth and allow the brush to do its job, several teeth at a time.


Daily flossing at least once a day is the best way to clean between the teeth and under the gumline. Flossing not only helps clean these spaces, it disrupts plaque colonies from building up, preventing damage to the gums, teeth, and bone.

How to Floss

  • Take 12-16 inches (30-40cm) of dental floss and wrap it around your middle fingers, leaving about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
  • Using your thumbs and forefingers to guide the floss, gently insert the floss between teeth using a sawing motion.
  • Curve the floss into a shape around each tooth and under the gumline. Gently move the floss up and down, cleaning the side of each tooth.
  • Floss holders are recommended if you have difficulty using conventional floss.

It is important to also rinse your mouth with water after brushing, and also after meals if you are unable to brush. If you are using an over-the-counter product for rinsing, it’s a good idea to consult with your Carrollwood dentist or dental hygienist on its appropriateness for you.

Dr. Parasher and the team at A Caring Dentist of Tampa can help you protect your teeth with regular dental check ups. Make an appointment at our Carrollwood or Wesley Chapel dental offices today. Take care of your teeth and they will take care of you!

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