It's not a question of if you should floss, but a matter of when. And correctly timing the daily habit can have a major impact on your dental health—here's what the experts have to say in SELF's March issue.
Floss before you brush—it loosens the food and plaque between teeth and under gums, so brushing can sweep them away, says Matthew Nejad, D.D.S., a dentist in private practice in Beverly Hills, California, and faculty member at the University of Southern California Ostrow School of Dentistry.
Of course any flossing is better than none (your toothbrush can’t access the tight spaces between your teeth and in gums), but waiting until after brushing allows particles to settle back into the teeth. Getting rid of them is key to prevent cavities, bad breath and gum disease. The American Dental Association recommends flossing at least once per day. (Extra credit if you floss every time you brush.) To remind yourself, stash floss by your toothbrush, where you’ll see it. The extra 30 seconds it adds to your morning and evening routine will be well worth it.