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Ah, the age-old question: Is it better to brush or floss first? (Or does it really matter?) Let’s get to the bottom of things.

In general, you should be in good shape if you do them all consistently, but there are benefits to doing them in a particular order. Here’s a brief look at the most widely recommended order:

1. Floss first

Using the analogy of sweeping a floor before you mop it, flossing gets rid of large particles of food stuck between your teeth, which allows the toothbrush bristles and fluoride in your toothpaste to reach tiny gaps and crevices that would be otherwise blocked. Additionally, if you brush first, you’re more likely to spend time on brushing but rush through flossing. Flossing first ensures you’ll give the task the time and attention it deserves.

2. Brush second

While brushing might clear out particles first that you won’t have to floss out later, brushing second ensures your toothbrush and toothpaste are working in the most efficient manner possible. Another advantage of brushing second is that it will give you time to give your toothbrush a quick peroxide soak before you use it. Bacteria thrive on toothbrush bristles, and dipping them into hydrogen peroxide for at least five seconds will kill bacteria and prevent your toothbrush from redistributing the bacteria into your mouth.

3. Mouthwash last

Mouthwash is a great finishing touch to your daily oral health routine. Packed with fluoride and minty freshness, mouthwash helps strengthen your teeth, prevents cavities, and eliminates bad breath. Most mouthwashes on the market work best if left on the teeth for a while after a 30-60 second rinse, which makes rinsing with mouthwash a natural final step to your routine. Just be sure to avoid drinking water for at least a half hour after rinsing with mouthwash to ensure maximum effectiveness.

Schedule a Visit to the Dentist

Whichever order you decided to brush and floss, regularly visiting your dentist will keep your smile in tip-top shape. Schedule an appointment today.