When it comes to regular flossing, Americans seem to be equally divided. It’s estimated that about 30% of the population flosses every day, 37% floss sometimes, and 32% never floss at all. This important part of your dental routine is the only way to clean out plaque and bacteria from between your teeth, which are notorious for creating cavities and encouraging gum disease. However, if you want to protect your smile as best you can, should you floss before or after brushing your teeth? The answer may surprise you! Read on as your dentist near Flower Mound explains how to get the most out of your daily dental routine.
First Off: How Does Fluoride Work?
Why would it matter if you floss before or after brushing your teeth? It all has to do with fluoride. This common but important mineral is found in most toothpastes and tap water systems. When it’s introduced into your saliva, the protective shell of enamel around your teeth can absorb it. Your tooth enamel is already the strongest substance in your body, but combining it with fluoride creates an even stronger material: fluoroapatite. Not only does this fortify your teeth, but it helps your enamel resist decay as well.
Here’s where flossing comes in. The goal is to cover as much of your teeth in fluoride as possible. While a toothbrush is great for reaching all the visible surfaces of your teeth, only dental floss can reach those tricky spaces between them. So does flossing before or after toothbrushing allow more fluoride to reach between your teeth?
Should You Brush or Floss First?
Some people believe that flossing after fluoride has been introduced into the mouth will help work it into those small, hard to reach places. However, recent studies are beginning to suggest that this isn’t the case. In fact, participants who flossed before brushing had less plaque and more fluoride than those who flossed after. Experts surmise that removing the debris and food particles from between the teeth first allows the fluoride to cover more surface area when applied. Additionally, flossing afterwards could potentially scrape fluoride off the teeth, making it less effective.
What’s the Bottom Line?
While the most current research suggests that flossing before you brush your teeth is more effective, the most important part of your flossing routine is that you stick with it every day. The American Dental Association recommends that “…the best time to floss is the time that fits well with the individual’s schedule.” For the best oral health, the ADA suggests brushing your teeth for two minutes twice a day, getting a regular dental checkup every six months, and cleaning between all your teeth with floss every day.
About the Author
At Highland Village Family Dentistry, Dr. Ryan Thomas is dedicated to helping you achieve a happy, healthy smile as well as understand more about your own oral health. He will gladly take the time to speak with you personally in our relaxed, modern conference room about the health of your mouth and answer any questions you may have, including how to make the most out of your at-home dental care routine. If you have more questions about flossing, feel free to contact him via his website or at (469) 444-6500.