Friday Favorites: Should You Floss Before or After You Brush?

How good is the evidence that flossing is effective, and what have randomized controlled trials shown to be the optimal toothbrushing and flossing sequence?

What about oil pulling? Short answer: Don’t do it. Long answer: See my four-part video series!
• Does Oil Pulling Help with Cancer? ( )
• Oil Pulling Benefits for Plaque and Gingivitis ( )
• Oil Pulling for Teeth Whitening and Bad Breath Tested ( )
• The Risks of Oil Pulling ( )

The most important thing you can do to protect your teeth is treat the cause of cavities by reducing added sugar intake. Is there anything else we can do to improve our oral health? Check out:
• Don’t Use Antiseptic Mouthwash ( )
• Plant-Based Diets: Oral Health ( )
• Plant-Based Diets: Dental Health ( )
• What’s the Best Mouthwash? ( )
• Antibacterial Toothpaste: Harmful, Helpful, or Harmless? ( )
• Do Raisins Cause Cavities? ( )
• Is Sodium Lauryl Sulfate Safe? ( )
• Is CABP in SLS-Free Toothpaste Any Better? ( )
• Is Aloe Vera Gel the Best Treatment for Lichen Planus? ( )
• Best Supplement for Canker Sores ( )
• Best Food for Periodontal Disease and Gingivitis ( )
• How to Treat Periodontitis with Diet ( )
• Best Foods for Halitosis and Gingivitis ( )
• The Worst Food for Tooth Decay ( )

What about bad breath? See:
• How to Naturally Treat Tongue Coating-Associated Halitosis (Bad Breath) ( )
• Foods That Cause and Help Halitosis (Bad Breath) ( )
• Effects of Tongue Scraping on Plaque, Gingivitis, and Cavities ( )
• Tongue Scraping vs. Tongue Brushing for Treating Halitosis (Bad Breath) ( )
• Does Tongue Scraping Cause Cancer? ( )
• How Tongue Scraping Can Affect Heart Health ( )
• How to Clean Your Tongue ( )
• Can Stress Cause Halitosis (Bad Breath)? ( )
• The Benefits of Gum Chewing for Halitosis (Bad Breath) ( )
• Dental Implant Overdentures and Cognitive Function ( )

Is Your Toothpaste Safe? ( ). Check out my podcast.

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Have a question about this video? Leave it in the comment section at and someone on the team will try to answer it.

Want to get a list of links to all the scientific sources used in this video? Click on Sources Cited at . You’ll also find a transcript and acknowledgements for the video, my blog and speaking tour schedule, and an easy way to search (by translated language even) through our videos spanning more than 2,000 health topics.

Thanks for watching. I hope you’ll join in the evidence-based nutrition revolution!
-Michael Greger, MD FACLM

Dave McKinnon

  • @pfrydog says:

    Floss first of course.

  • @pluribus_unum says:

    The upshot: 4:02

  • @nessieness5433 says:

    Floss first, brush next is the message.

    • @thesum3312 says:

      Makes sense, that way you end up cleaning between your teeth as well, instead of keeping the bacteria and food there

  • @UHaulShorts says:


  • @zzt231gr says:

    Is there a vacccine to stop flossing?We got to know one!

  • @chrisogrady28 says:

    I’ve always done brush, floss, mouthwash.
    I thought flossing first would just push more dirt into the gaps

    • @ss1extreme says:

      well turns out you are wrong, also with that logic shouldn’t you use mouthwash first.

    • @spandel100 says:

      Mouthwash is bad news.Killing the bacteria in your throat area which generate nitric oxide is not a good idea.Heart disease is the result of this.Rather use a xylitol,salt rinse.

    • @x_jaydn says:

      Agreed with @ss1extreme

      Also, why would you want more dirt “into” the gaps? 🤔

      That would make it more difficult for the toothbrush to get to that “dirt” thereafter.
      … leading to even more gingivitis and tooth decay.

      Instead of pushing the “dirt” into a hard-to-reach gap, you should be aiming to remove the “dirt” completely.

      Ideally, you’d want to protect the whole tooth – including the gaps, not just the front (and back) faces.

  • @mchagawa1615 says:

    This has really been so helpful for me since the original video <3 thank you <3

  • @redhen689 says:

    I used to only floss sporadically, because I hated it. My teeth are tightly spaced, and the floss would break as I tried to work it in or out. A couple of years ago, I started flossing regularly, at least 6 nights a week. I didn’t say anything to the hygienist. After finishing her work, she asked me if I was doing anything differently because my gum health was much improved. 😊

    • @Atomicfog says:

      I never flossed before using a waterpik because it sucks, I agree, but did realize it was more important. So yeah, just use a well-reviewed waterpik — it’s simple and so much better. I don’t know why Dr. Greger didn’t mention it.

  • @lizpimentel2566 says:

    Ive always flossed before brushing

  • @velatoget says:

    I always brush, floss, then brush again. But I don’t floss nearly as often as I should.

  • @notthere83 says:

    As someone who used to get the occasional cavity and suffered from minor gingivitis for years, I’m pretty confident that flossing works.

  • @joe-edward says:

    MORE DENTAL STUDIES, PLEASE!!! Is there solid evidence to support tooth regeneration (cavity self-healing)? If so, HOW??

    • @DoubtingThomas333 says:

      Early stages only. Before the bacteria eats its way through your enamel.

    • @cainen6355 says:

      A developed visible cavity can not heal itself based on all evidence I have seen nor is it ever reported. Only the very surface of the teeth when slightly demineralized can remineralize through the saliva over time if further damage is avoided.

      However there is research going on in the field of regenerative medicine that could one day make it possible to stimulate the tissues and stemcells in the jaw to produce a whole new tooth, which would make severely damaged teeth not a problem anymore because they could be replaced by a stemcell based implant that matures into a full tooth or with advances in bioelectric signaling even the possibility of stimulating the tissues below a damaged or removed tooth to generate a new tooth from the ground up, as happens in children twice.

  • @rubytuby6369 says:

    Brush, floss, water pic…😊

  • @andreawisner7358 says:

    I have a better progression: rinse with mouthwash + quick brush with the mouthwash, then floss, then brush with toothpaste.

    • @spandel100 says:

      Check the studies on mouthwash,causes heart disease because it kills the bacteria that create nitric oxide.Dump it.Use xylitol and salt as a rinse with some peppermint oil.

  • @Atomicfog says:

    I think anybody should not floss and use a waterpik instead, and then brush. I think it’s different since the waterpik rinses the mouth and teeth — unlike floss. But yeah, using a waterpik is so much better, more comfortable, and easier. Dr. Greger should have mentioned it.

  • @jencollier8306 says:

    16 year hygienist that’s seen some gingival nightmares… please, floss whatever way keeps you in the habit. Do what works for you and don’t stop! Cheer yourself on for flossing daily!!🎉😊

  • @MattieIris says:

    So I was doing it the recommended way. Good.

  • @spandel100 says:

    If I miss even one day of flossing I get a muffy taste in my mouth,and a couple of days later,when I do floss,I get bleeding.Flossed everyday for more that 10 years,and brush after with a natural organic,xylitol containing,fluoride free toothpaste,and the softest toothbrush I can find.No cavities and a fresh mouth as a result.

  • @pps374 says:

    Thank you. I’ve been asking myself this question every morning for a week

  • @kati-ana says:

    I floss after every meal and even snack, then rinse. Flossing ‘after’ brushing doesn’t even make sense.

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