When it comes to oral hygiene, one common question that often arises is whether to floss before or after brushing your teeth. While opinions have varied over the years, recent studies and dental experts lean towards flossing first as an effective approach to dental care. The rationale behind this sequence is quite straightforward: flossing first helps loosen and remove food particles and plaque between teeth, which can then be more effectively brushed away and rinsed out during subsequent brushing.
Flossing before brushing also allows for the fluoride in toothpaste to better penetrate between the teeth. When you floss first, you’re clearing the spaces between your teeth, creating a pathway for the fluoride to travel. This is particularly beneficial for tooth enamel and can help in preventing cavities in areas where the toothbrush might not reach. Essentially, by flossing first, you’re prepping your teeth for a more thorough and effective brushing.
How To Floss Better
Step 1: Choose the Right Floss
First, select a dental floss that suits your needs. If your teeth are tightly spaced, a thinner, waxed floss might be easier to use. For wider gaps, a dental tape or thicker floss might be more effective. There are also various types of floss, such as traditional string floss, dental picks, and water flossers, each catering to different preferences and needs.
Step 2: Use an Adequate Length
Cut a piece of floss about 18 inches long. This length allows you to use a fresh section of floss for each tooth and maintain a firm grip. Wrap most of the floss around each of your middle fingers, leaving about 1-2 inches of floss to work with.
Step 3: Gently Insert the Floss
Hold the floss tightly between your thumbs and index fingers. Gently slide it up and down between your teeth. Be careful not to snap or force the floss into your gums, as this can cause damage and discomfort.
Step 4: Curve the Floss Around Each Tooth
When the floss reaches your gum line, curve it into a C-shape against one tooth. Slide it gently into the space between the gum and the tooth. Hold the floss tightly against the tooth and gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up and down motions. Repeat this on the neighboring tooth.
Step 5: Be Thorough
Repeat this process for each tooth, including the back sides of your last molars. Remember to use a fresh section of floss for each tooth to avoid reinserting the bacteria you just removed.
Step 6: Be Regular and Gentle
Floss gently to avoid harming the gums. Bleeding during flossing is common if you’re not regular with your flossing routine, but it should decrease as your gums become healthier. If bleeding persists, consult your dentist.
Step 7: Follow with Brushing
After flossing, proceed with brushing your teeth. This will help to remove any dislodged food particles or plaque and allow the fluoride from your toothpaste to better reach between your teeth.
Adding flossing into your routine before brushing can establish a more consistent dental care habit. Many people tend to skip flossing after brushing, either because they may forget or feel that their teeth are already clean. By switching the order and flossing first, it ensures this crucial step isn’t overlooked. In the grand scheme of dental health, the most important thing is to include both flossing and brushing in your daily routine, regardless of the order, to maintain good oral hygiene.