There's No Correct Order for Brushing, Flossing and Gargling Mouthwash

As long as you’re doing all three, you’re in the clear.


Everyone has a different approach to oral care: Some brush before flossing, some floss before brushing. Some wild folk even gargle mouthwash before anything else. But what order is the correct order? We wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth, and in this case, that horse is Dr. Matt Messina of the American Dental Association.

“There is no definitive study that says one order of operations is best,” Messina says. “But I floss first, since it disturbs the plaque and bacteria between teeth. That way, the brush sweeps everything away, then I rinse with mouthwash to get everything out my mouth.”

His logic appears to be sound: Flossing dislodges food and bacteria between the teeth. Then, the toothbrush wipes away any excess gunk that was just removed from between your teeth. Finally, the mouthwash serves as a chemical cleanse to purge your mouth of any lingering microbes not removed by brushing and flossing.

Still, Messina emphasised that so long as you’re actually doing all three, you’re in good shape. “At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference,” he says. “For the most part, you’re going to see the same results no matter the order.”

Well, that settles that.