Should Kids Brush or Floss First?

There are as many opinions on brushing and flossing as there are dentists. Floss first, and your child’s brushing removes the plaque that’s been loosened. Brush first and your floss pushes valuable fluoride deeper into the gum line. The traditional belief is that you should lead with your toothbrush, but dentists (and parents) are happy enough if kids are doing both that they rarely concern themselves with the order.

Gum disease causes tooth loss, and the right flossing technique can stop it in its tracks. Most adults don’t floss correctly, so they pass their poor habits onto their children. Floss is supposed to clear debris from between the teeth, but also under the gum line, so the most important part of brushing and flossing synergy is teaching correct technique and making sure you do both.

Children’s Oral Care

The American Dental Association suggests that flossing precede brushing purely so that children don’t forget that important step. That synergy might help forgetful children to remember all the stages of oral care. Many people consider flossing to be more of a chore than brushing, so doing it first could increase the chances of doing it at all.

Other experts advise people to brush first because they will be more thorough with it if they’ve not yet flossed. In other words, most experts choose their strategy based on our tendency to be lazy. By the time we’re ready to go to bed, it’s easy to tell ourselves we’re too tired to brush and floss properly. A tooth brushing song can help kids take the appropriate amount of time on their teeth.

The bottom line? Focus on doing both with proper technique and fluoride toothpaste.

Baby teeth need to be brushed as soon as they appear. A soft brush and damp cloth should be used to carefully clean the mouth. Fluoride is particularly important at a young age so that permanent adult teeth form well. It helps the enamel to develop and crystallize properly.