There are a few questions that have followed humanity throughout the millennia, like, “Did the chicken or the egg come first?” or “What is the secret to world peace?” While the global community will be searching for answers to those for a long time to come, we’re happy to address another query that comes up with our patients all the time, “Should I brush or floss my teeth first?” Daily oral hygiene is important for everyone, but especially those who are undergoing orthodontic treatment. So, does it matter which one you do first, or is the order not that important? Read on to find out!
Why Both Brushing & Flossing Are Important
The American Dental Association recommends that everyone brush their teeth for two minutes twice a day and floss once in the evening. For those with braces or Invisalign, it’s best to do both after every meal or snack. Brushing removes cavity-causing plaque and food particles from the surfaces of the teeth, while flossing is able to clear out the spaces between them where the bristles can’t reach. Doing just one and not the other leaves a large part of someone’s teeth unclean, raising their risk for a litany of oral health issues, including bad breath, cavities, gum disease, and more.
Which Should Come First?
Normally, a child learns to brush first, so most people tend to do it before flossing. Some dental experts agree that this is the best approach, as they feel that their patients benefit most from flossing after using a fluoridated toothpaste.
However, in a study conducted by the American Academy of Periodontology, 25 participants were asked to brush then floss for a few weeks, and then switch the order. Researchers observed their teeth at the end of both phases, and the data showed that flossing first led to more plaque removal and enabled fluoride toothpaste to better penetrate the enamel between the teeth.
And the Verdict is…
While there is more and more science coming out that supports flossing first, the most important thing is that you both brush and floss every day. Regardless of the order, using both of these practices is the most effective way to remove plaque from all of the teeth’s surfaces, and in the case of orthodontics, from between brackets and wires.
So, while the question of brushing versus flossing first is still unsettled, what is clear is that as long as you’re doing both, your smile is winning!
About the Author
Dr. Jeffrey Shirck is a board-certified, award-winning orthodontist based in the Columbus area. In addition to providing many orthodontic services for his patients, he always takes the time to answer questions. Whether you want to know the latest tips about oral hygiene or more about orthodontics for yourself or your child, he’s ready to provide the personalized answers you need. To schedule a FREE in-person consultation at Shirck Orthodontics, click here.