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I floss before I brush, but my husband flosses afterward. Who’s right?

By: Dr. Paul Fletcher

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Surprisingly, it really doesn’t make much of a difference whether you floss before or after brushing. The bottom line is that brushing removes the bacteria on the surface of the teeth, while flossing removes the plaque and bacteria between teeth -- and both are really important. I happen to floss first. I feel that brushing afterward helps remove any particles that might get dislodged while I’m flossing. But as I said, it’s up to you.

It also doesn’t matter which type of floss you use. Unwaxed floss may get teeth cleaner than the waxed kind because it tends to fray, which results in multiple tufts of twine polishing the teeth. But the very fact that it does shred -- and sometimes breaks -- can become an obstacle to flossing entirely, which clearly defeats the purpose. So just use the type of floss that you will use regularly.

In addition, use a toothbrush with soft bristles and always give your mouth a final rinse with clean water after brushing or flossing -- whichever you do last -- to remove any last bits of debris.

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Dr. Paul Fletcher is a periodontist who practices at Specialized Dentistry of New York in New York City.

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