You don’t need to be the best dentist in Edmond to know that keeping your teeth looking and feeling their best means needing to brush and floss daily. Of course, while we’ve all been told since childhood that brushing and flossing play an important role in determining how healthy our smiles, a little more confusion surrounds whether we should brush or floss first.
Fortunately, researchers have come to our rescue to finally answer this age old question. The results of a recent study found that flossing before brushing may actually be the ideal sequencing for removing the most buildup of dental plaque.
The results of this latest study was recently published in the Journal of Periodontology.
Flossing Before You Brush
In the study, titled “The Effect of Toothbrushing and Flossing Sequence on Interdental Plaque Reduction and Fluoride Retention,” researchers examined 25 participants who were instructed to brush before using floss to clean between their teeth. In a second stage of the study, the same group was asked to us floss before brushing. Researchers discovered that the amount of plaque between the teeth and in the mouth overall was significantly decreased when participants used the floss/brush sequence.
To explain the results, researchers concluded that since flossing helps to loosen bacteria and food debris from between the teeth, brushing after flossing helps to further remove these types of substances from the mouth. Plaque and other harmful oral bacteria are the primary cause behind the development of gum disease, a chronic infection that develops when bacteria are allowed to buildup below the gum line. Gum disease can cause swelling, inflammation and the irritation of gum tissue. When gum disease goes untreated and is allowed to progress, it can cause permanent tooth loss.
Researchers also discovered that fluoride, a natural occurring mineral that’s commonly added to toothpaste and even the public water supply of many communities throughout the U.S. that helps to prevent tooth decay, remained in the mouth for an extended period of time when patients flossed prior to brushing. Participants in the study brushed with a fluoridated toothpaste during both stages.
Practicing Quality Oral Hygiene
So now that we know flossing better helps to protect the health of our teeth when done before brushing, let’s take a look at what oral hygiene practices even the best dentist in Edmond would recommend:
- Brush twice a day. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day – once in the morning after breakfast and again at night before bed. However, depending the current state of your oral health, you may need to brush more frequently to maintain your oral health.
- Brush for at least two minutes. The ADA also recommends brushing for at least two minutes each time you brush. Our mouths feature a lot of hard to reach areas that require time and attention to properly clean. Two minutes provide enough time for you to properly clean all areas of the mouth, including both the front and back of your teeth. Unfortunately, studies have found that the average adult only brushes for about one minute a day. That’s just a quarter of the amount of time recommended by the ADA.
- Floss at least once a day. Finally, the ADA recommends flossing at least once a day, ideally at night before bed. While flossing may seem unnecessary, the habit enables you to remove food and bacteria from areas of the mouth a toothbrush cannot reach – between your teeth and below the gum line.
- (Bonus) Rinse with mouthwash. While not part of the ADA’s guidelines for quality oral hygiene, you could add a non-alcoholic mouthwash as part of your daily routine. If you decide to use an oral rinse, make sure to use a brand that doesn’t contain alcohol, as that could lead to drying out your mouth. Also, make sure to only use the mouthwash as directed as overusing the product could have unintended consequences.
If you have any questions about the best ways to brush or floss, make sure to ask any member of our team during your next visit to Santa Fe Dental.