Brush or Floss Question: Is it better to brush or floss first? Answer: There are many differing theories on this. Some argue that flossing should come first because, when flossing, plaque and bits of food are loosened and should be brushed away after you’ve finished flossing. fluoride from the toothpaste will make better contact if food wedged in between the teeth is removed before brushing. The argument for brushing first and then flossing is that brushing your teeth first removes the bulk of the plaque on the teeth.
Flossing afterward forces the remaining bit of fluoride left on the teeth from brushing into the in-between spaces. Here’s my opinion: As long as you’re asking this question, it means you’re doing both, and that’s what matters. The synergy between flossing and brushing (and not the order in which you do them) will lengthen your life, improve your cognitive abilities, and will keep your teeth healthy and beautiful.
Unfortunately, if people are going to do one or the other, they’re going to brush. Flossing tends to be thought of as secondary, maybe because we’ve been told since childhood the same phrase over and over, “Brush, then floss.” Imagine staining only the front and back of a fence, but neglecting to paint the insides – sure, you’ve stained the front and back of the fence, but the insides are going to rot.
The same goes with teeth – if you neglect to floss, you can still get cavities in between. It’s a widespread myth that you can get away with brushing only. Flossing cleans out the parts of the teeth that the toothbrush cannot reach. Brushing without flossing can result in cavities, gum disease, and even heart disease. So, whether you brush first or floss first is your preference! I recommend that you stick with whatever works for you so that you stay in the habit of always brushing and flossing.
Blog Notes: About Mark Burhenne DDS Welcome! My name is Dr. Mark Burhenne, or Dr. B for short. When did we start seeing the mouth as separate from the rest of the human body? The mouth doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It is intimately connected to the health of the rest of the body. In fact, the bacteria and entire environment inside the mouth are connected to the rest of your body so intimately that the state of your oral health can predict whether you’ll have heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes.
In my 30 years of practice as a dentist, I’ve seen a lot of misinformation and people who have fallen through the cracks due to our healthcare system’s failure to understand the oral-body connection. I created this blog to empower people to understand how your mouth is a window into the health of the rest of your body. It is my sincere hope that the knowledge and tools on this blog will lead to greater health and well-being for you and those you love.
Throughout this website you’ll find high-quality articles and free resources for getting and staying healthy. It’s the info I use to keep myself and my family healthy, and how I treat my patients. I graduated from the University of British Columbia with a B.S. in Biochemistry and B.A. in History of Art and had the privilege of attending the University of the Pacific Dugoni School of Dentistry in San Francisco, consistently ranked among the best in the US.
I am an active member of several continuing education groups and study clubs in prosthetics and periodontology that perform actual clinical work on patients. I have worked as an expert witness in legal dental cases. I’ve also volunteered as a dental surgeon in Jos, Nigeria. I raised three daughters without cavities (all without ingestion of fluoride). I enjoy downhill skiing, alpine touring, mountain biking, photography, and listening to jazz and classical records (you know, those flat analog 12-inch vinyl discs).
I am passionate about restoring teeth to their original function and beauty – and as someone who studied art history and is a hobbyist photographer, the intersection of art and the opportunity to help people makes dentistry my dream profession. I welcome your comments and questions and encourage you to like my Facebook page or follow me on Twitter to get the latest on oral and dental health.
Ask the Dentist is for you, so I want to know, what would you like answered on Ask the Dentist? Mark Burhenne DDS Share this post Author: Dr. Mark Burhenne https://askthedentist.com/ Hi, I'm Dr. Mark Burhenne, family and sleep medicine dentist. Good dental health is good overall health. It's that important, and it's exactly why I created Ask the Dentist. Related Posts
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Flossing is an important part of keeping your teeth clean and looking good. When you have braces, it can be doubly, triply hard to floss. The biggest points about flossing when you have braces is to take your time, do it right, and do it consistently. There are many programs and products to help you floss well while your braces are in. Some are free, some are very low cost, and others are expensive.
Whether they will work for you or not will be the biggest factor. An expensive toothbrush that you use consistently and that works is a much better investment in your teeth than choosing a cheap brush and risking your teeth being discolored and damaged later on. Flossing With Braces: Misconceptions Flossing quick is still flossing This isn’t quite true. Flossing quick is better than not flossing at all, but it will still leave behind food particles and other buildup that can lead to cavities, tooth decay, discolored teeth, and other dental problems.
When you have braces taking your time and making sure every grove is cleaned is very important. Over time, you’ll develop habits and techniques that will save you time flossing, but the care and thoroughness must be maintained. Braces will leave behind white marks on teeth It’s actually the opposite. The braces will stop food and drinks from touching certain parts of your teeth. They keep that part of your teeth cleaner.
The food is discoloring the rest of your teeth. Proper brushing and floss will help remove the food particles and help reduce the staining. Then, once you have your braces removed, your clean, brushed teeth will match the parts of your teeth that were hidden behind the braces. Flossing should be done after brushing In truth, it doesn’t matter. Some dentists will tell you to floss before, some will tell you to floss after.
You should listen to your dentist. While it doesn’t matter for people without braces when they floss, there are certain types of braces and conditions that may require you to brush before or after. Your dentist is letting you know what will work best for your braces. If it doesn’t matter to your dentist, floss when you are best able to remember it. Sometimes, teeth are too close together to floss While it is true some teeth are too close together for standard floss, there are smaller gauge floss for these teeth.
In fact, there are floss sizes for every situation *. Talk to your dentist to make sure you are using the right size floss. Floss is floss Like before, there are different sizes of floss and different types of floss. The standard waxed floss you find in the stores should be fine for most people. If not, talk to your dentist to see what he or she recommends. String floss is the only floss to use String floss is often the most convenient, but it’s not the only floss.
A floss toothpick *, a waterpick *, or electric toothbrush are all good substitutes for dental floss. There is also special braces floss, which is heavier and stiffer than regular floss, available, but you need to watch your source. Several overseas producers make cheap knockoffs and can rip you off. Talk to your dentist about which one will work the best for you. Bleeding Gums is a bad sign Bleeding gums is a sign of injury or gum disease.
If your gums bleed regularly, you should see your dentist to rule out more serious gum problems. If your gums bleed just occasionally or in random places, it’s a better sign you injured your gums with the floss. Our gums are very sensitive mucous membranes that have blood vessels very close to the surface. It does not take much to damage them. If you find you are bleeding because of the floss, talk to your dentist about learning a better technique.
Repeated injuries to your gums can result in damage to your teeth and/or pain. How Long To Floss Teeth With Braces This will depend on the person. Each crevice between your teeth and your gums needs its own, individual attention. For some people, they can floss out their mouths in a few minutes. For others, it may take as much as 15 minutes. There are tools to help you floss quicker and easier, so talk to your dentist to see what would work best for you.
Types of Floss For Braces There are many different types of floss. Their main job is to remove food particles from between teeth. Floss/Tape – waxed, unwaxed, supersized, polytetrafluoro-ethylene Each has a different size and strength Comes loose as string Waxed floss is the most common in stores A floss holder makes it easier to hold the floss A floss needle makes threading between braces easier Super Floss * Toothpick * Used to pick food from between teeth Comes in many shapes and sizes Not recommended for daily use Typical wooden toothpick at restaurants is most common Tip Stimulator * Accessory to toothbrushes Massages gums Dislodges larger food particles Not a substitute for flossing Interproximal brushes Water flossers * Motorized units that use a pulsating stream of water to clean Most often used at dental offices Products To Help You Brush & Floss Consistently We’re not going to review any individual product here.
There are hundreds of different toothbrushes, both electronic and manual, flossers, waterpicks, ultrasound picks, and other crazier designs. We recommend you talk to your dentist about options for your particular braces. Many products work well for everyone, but some may not work for you. Before you spend the money, make sure it’s something you can use and that you will use. Cleaning The Wires With Braces Cleaning the wires between your braces is a hard task.
There is very little brace against and if you push too hard, you’ll break the wire, or worse, adjust the brace. The wires of your braces should be cleaned every time you brush. Food particles on your wires could migrate to your teeth and cause problems. One of the best tools for this is a floss threader or a floss needle *. Basically, this is a tool you use to mimic sewing between your teeth and wires.
The floss goes in one end and you use the need to guide it through the spaces between your teeth and wires. Then, you can floss as normal. Interproximal brushes * are another tool to get between teeth and wires. It’s a tiny, spiral brush that is designed to get in the small areas. It won’t fit between tightly pressed teeth, but it will get in near the gums and around your wires. There are several sizes of interproximal brushes for different spaces and you may need several to get everywhere.
You will also need to clean and sterilize these often, as food bit can get stuck in the bristles. Dentists often recommend using interproximal brushes before you brush, while floss can be used either before or after. Flossing: Step By Step First, you should rinse your mouth out with water to flush any loose piece of food from your mouth. This can be as simple as finishing a drink at the table or rinsing at the sink.
Every time you eat you should brush your teeth. Skipping a brushing could lead to problems in the future. In you can’t, keeping a small container of mouthwash handy can be a stop-gap measure. We often floss after brushing, so that is what we are going to cover. If you choose, simply floss before. If you use interproximal brushes, carefully go in between each tooth and wire to make sure you clean all the area.
The goal for the brushes is to loosen and remove larger bits of food. Spend time to get this part right. Next, brush. Use a pencil-tip-sized drop of toothpaste your dentist recommends * (most people use too much) on a brush specifically designed for braces. While all toothbrushes will work, you will receive greater results by using a brush designed for braces. This type of brush has a V shape cut from the middle to accommodate the braces.
Brush each tooth along all the surfaces. Remember, each tooth has a top, back, front, 2 sides, and now has a top, bottom and 2 sides to the braces. You should spend 2 minutes brushing your teeth, or about 4 seconds per tooth. Spend extra time on the very last teeth where food can collect between the tooth and gum. Flossing. Most people do not floss correctly according the American Dental Association.
In order to floss properly, you need to pass the floss between your teeth into the void space between the teeth and gums. Once in that area, you should be wrapping the floss around the base of each tooth and scraping the floss away from the gum. For the top, easy to access parts of your teeth, saw the floss in between the teeth down to the point where you are no long able to continue. Use the same sawing motion to remove the floss.
For the spaces between your teeth and gums and between your wires and teeth, use a stiff floss or a floss threader. Thread the floss into the void area. Then scrape the floss along the tooth and wire. In this space, a sawing motion is not needed. After each space is cleaned, rinse with water or a mouthwash *. Apps To Help You Brush & Floss There are hundreds of free and paid apps out there to help you brush your teeth and floss.
Some of them are timers and some of them are direction givers. Others are reminders and checklists to makes sure things get done. Toothsavers is a free app for kids to help remind them to brush and floss. It’s set up like a game where they win prizes for brushing consistently. Using the apps should mean you are actually brushing and flossing, not just clicking the buttons. Disney’s Magic Timer is a partnership with Oral B that uses a timer and fun pictures to help kids time out how long they should brush.
The app is free with the Oral B purchase. Colgate’s ToothFairy is an app for parents to help remind them of a brushing schedule. It also tracks dental appointments, pictures of lost teeth, and has the ability to share on social media. Dental Phobia is an adult app to help remind you to brush and get to the dentist. It’s designed for people who are wary of the dentist by providing helpful hints and coping mechanisms.
BrushDJApp provides oral hygiene reminders and a large selection of 2 minute music so you know how long to brush. Conclusion Braces are a difficult and lengthy ordeal. You are required to take care of your teeth more than what most people are used to. There are many special techniques and methods you need to use that others don’t. Using some of the products we mentioned here may make the time easier and help reduce the time you are spending at the sink.
Just be sure of any product you use will actually be used to increase your compliance with brushing times and methods. A product or app you don’t use is just a waste of money! If you liked our article, please share it and use the comment section below to tell us about your experiences or ask any questions. Thanks! You May Also Like These Posts: Better-Looking Teeth After Braces: Facts You Need to Know How to Deal with Crooked Teeth the Best Way Does Medicare Cover Dental Services? (And Other Questions about Orthodontic Insu.
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