You are diligent about brushing and flossing your teeth, but have you ever wondered about the proper order for completing these tasks? Our BC and Alberta orthodontists explain why we advise patients to floss before brushing as opposed to after.
Should you floss or brush first?
You understand the importance of sticking to a regular dental hygiene routine, especially while undergoing orthodontic treatment. Taking care of your teeth not only fights bad breath - it can also prevent cavities, gum disease and help you keep your teeth white and free of stains once your treatment is complete.
But, have you ever thought about which order to do these tasks in, or wondered if it matters? Perhaps you've considered yourself good to go as long as both are getting done on a regular basis.
Our BC and Alberta orthodontists will offer insight into why we recommend flossing before brushing your teeth in this post, and when to see an orthodontist if you're finding it difficult to properly clean your teeth.
Brushing & Flossing
Your toothbrush and floss are essential tools of the trade when it comes to maintaining your dental hygiene. While brushing helps to remove plaque, clean your teeth and prevent cavities, brushing alone, even if you do it twice daily or more, isn't enough to keep your teeth healthy and prevent bad breath and gum disease.
Flossing once every day helps lift and remove plaque, food and debris from your teeth. However, the bristles of your toothbrush can't reach deep between your teeth, where bacteria and other debris can become stuck and cause cavities. Flossing removes plaque and bacteria from those crevices.
During your orthodontic treatment, brushing and flossing regularly are critical to maintaining your oral and overall health.
Careful brushing and flossing can prevent plaque and food debris from accumulating around braces and causing cavities, discolouration and other issues. And, keeping your teeth clean prevents food particles from getting stuck between your teeth and clear aligners.
Why floss before brushing?
Here are a few reasons we recommend flossing before brushing.
Eliminates Troublesome Plaque
Plaque on teeth typically hardens into tartar within 24 to 36 hours. It's also a main cause of gum disease. If you floss your teeth regularly before blushing, plaque will usually not harden on your teeth.
After flossing and brushing, remember to spit out any remaining toothpaste in your mouth, but don't rinse your mouth (another common thing many people have been taught is to rinse their mouth with mouthwash or water after brushing).
The reason to refrain from rinsing is that rinsing your mouth after brushing washes away fluoride, which strengthens teeth. To help the fluoride in your toothpaste remain on your teeth for as long as possible, avoid rinsing.
However, you can swish about 1 teaspoon of water, then spit, if you're concerned about having too much toothpaste residue in your mouth. We advise waiting to use mouthwash for a couple of hours after brushing your teeth. If you use a fluoride mouthwash, wait at least 30 minutes after rinsing your mouth to eat or drink.
Removes Food Particles From Mouth
Some people have learned to brush before flossing, or fall into a habit and never deviate from this routine. The issue with this order is that any bacteria, plaque or food released by flossing from in between your teeth stays in your mouth until the next time you brush.
That said, when you floss before brushing, the circular brushing action removes the particles that are still in your mouth. As a result, less dental plaque accumulates, which lowers your risk of developing cavities and gum disease.
Your toothpaste also contains fluoride, which can better accomplish its task of protecting your teeth when those food particles are removed first.
Prevents Gum Disease
Also referred to as periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when too much bacteria accumulate and remain on the surface of your teeth. The condition can infect and destroy the soft tissues and supporting bones of your teeth.
Poor dental hygiene, which involves not properly brushing or flossing, and skipping routine dental cleanings can cause gum disease. Symptoms include loose teeth, bleeding gums, bad breath and swollen, red or tender gums.
When to See an Orthodontist
While it's true that flossing and brushing are always integral to an excellent dental hygiene routine - and critical to your oral health during and after treatment - some orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth can make cleaning your teeth properly more difficult.
With crowded teeth, there is not enough space in the mouth for permanent teeth to grow in straight. As a result, crooked teeth overlap, which makes it more challenging to floss and brush them sufficiently enough to prevent cavities and other dental issues.
Depending on the nature of this condition, the patient's age and other factors, our BC and Alberta orthodontists can create a custom treatment plan that may include braces or clear aligners to help correct the issue.
Though we recommend children have their first orthodontic assessment by age 7, this problem and other orthodontic conditions can be treated in children, teens and adults.
If you've noticed that your or your children's teeth are crowded, book a consultation today.