Should I Floss or Brush First?

February 17, 2020

Is there an ideal sequence for your oral hygiene routine? Well, according to recent studies, yes. Researchers have found that flossing before brushing may be the most efficient for a thorough removal of dental plaque. This sequence was also found to increase fluoride concentration delivered from the toothpaste, which makes your tooth enamel stronger, making it easier to resist decay.

That’s right, a simple two-step routine can not only effectively remove dental plaque and strengthen your teeth but can also help to minimize your time in orthodontic treatment. You can reap all these oral health benefits by playing your role. Your oral health care doesn’t end after you leave your dentist or orthodontist office, you are also a partner in the process.

Play your role

Keep your teeth clean. Orthodontic treatment is a team effort between your orthodontist, dentist and you, and your role includes:

  1. Brushing for two minutes after every meal or snack. If you can’t brush, make sure to at least rinse your mouth with water.
  2. Flossing at least once a day, ideally before you brush.
  3. Making sure your teeth are thoroughly clean before bed.
  4. Seeing your general dentist every 4-6 months for cleanings and check-ups.
  5. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks that can contribute to decalcification and tooth decay.

Why is all this brushing and flossing necessary?

Not maintaining a proper oral hygiene routine puts you at risk for poor oral health.

Orthodontic appliances themselves don’t cause oral health issues, but they may create spaces that can be difficult to clean, creating areas for potential decay. When plaque and food accumulate around your braces this can lead to permanent white marks (decalcification), cavities, swollen gums, bad breath and periodontal disease.

Tools + tips

  • Interproximal brushes – these are great at dislodging plaque and food particles trapped between teeth, and to clear out debris that catches on brackets and wires.
  • Water irrigators – these can flush out food particles quickly!
  • Fluoride mouth rinse – whether over the counter or prescription strength, a daily fluoride rinse can strengthen tooth enamel and help prevent white marks (decalcification).
  • Your orthodontist may suggest dipping an interproximal brush in a capful of fluoride rinse to deliver fluoride protection between the teeth or using a fluoride rinse instead of water in an irrigator.

Trust an AAO orthodontist

You can work with an American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) Orthodontist to achieve a healthy, beautiful smile at any age. Orthodontists are experts in orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics – properly aligned teeth and jaws – and possess the skills and experience to give you your best smile. Find an orthodontist near you at aaoinfo.org/locator.