Brushing or flossing – which should I do first?
October 5th, 2018
Most people are now aware of the benefits of flossing and an increasing number have added the habit their daily dental hygiene regime. But have you ever wondered whether you should brush first and floss later, or vice versa? The truth is, nobody has really been sure until now. However, new research by the Oral Health Foundation 1 may have finally answered this pressing question.
Flossing or using interdental brushes has been proven to significantly increase the amount of food debris that is removed from the teeth, especially from hard to reach areas that a standard toothbrush just isn’t able to clean effectively. As well as helping to eliminate visible build ups from between the teeth, using an interdental brush or traditional floss also helps to remove bacteria build ups. Flossing combined with good brushing results in plaque, the main cause of tooth decay, being tackled much more effectively.
Which should I do first?
The research found that those who interdentally cleaned before brushing were left with a much cleaner mouth than those who did it afterwards. Removing or loosening build ups prior to brushing allowed them to be removed by the regular toothbrush to leave the teeth as clean as possible. Whilst normal brushing only effectively cleans three of the five surfaces of our teeth, combining this with an initial clean using an interdental brush led to significantly improved brushing results.
How should I use an interdental brush?
The Oral Health Foundation recommends the following approach for best results:
Choose a size of brush (typically 0.4mm to 1.5mm) that fits between your teeth comfortably without using much force. You may find you need a couple different sizes but the best way to find out is to ask your dentist or hygienist the next time you have an appointment.
- Hold the interdental brush between your thumb and forefinger.
- Gently place the brush through the gap between your teeth – don’t force the brush through the gap.
- Brush in and out of each space between your teeth.
Benefits of using fluoride toothpaste
It is recommended that as well as flossing prior to brushing, a fluoride toothpaste should always be used. Plaque on the surface of your teeth can produce acids that seep into the pores of the enamel and break down its internal structure. This process, called demineralization, can create a weak spot in the tooth which may become a cavity if left untreated. Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral which can help to slow down this process and help in the fight against acid.
Don’t miss your regular check ups
Although maintaining a good oral hygiene regime is vital to keeping your teeth and gums in the best possible condition, daily brushing and flossing should not be seen as an alternative to having a regular dental check up. A thorough dental examination will allow your dentist to identify and treat problems with your teeth before they are able to develop into anything more serious. Dentists will also look for signs of gum disease which are invisible to the untrained eye. In conjunction with the hygienist, your dental care team can also advise you on the best way to look after your teeth and gums so you can keep on smiling with confidence.
To book an appointment now or enquire about becoming a member of Battle Road Dental Practice in St Leonards on Sea, call us today on 08443 879788.