We all know it’s important to take care of our teeth by brushing, rinsing, and flossing — but sometimes it can get a little confusing from there. It may seem like no matter what order you’re doing them in, you should be getting the benefits. But, you also may have heard there’s an optimal sequence.
A common question we get is whether it’s best to rinse after brushing your teeth or before. Many people like to rinse last to get the taste of the toothpaste out of their mouth. While it may seem intuitive for you or your child to rinse last to make sure your mouth is extra clean, it’s probably best to rinse before, or treat rinsing as a separate activity. Read on to learn more.
What’s the Best Order for Brushing, Rinsing, and Flossing?
You should be brushing your teeth twice a day, and flossing at least once. This routine helps prevent and remove plaque buildup that can lead to tooth decay and cavities. There is some debate about rinsing, as it can potentially be countering the benefits of brushing and flossing, even if it does help remove food particles from the mouth.
If you do rinse, it may be beneficial to do it separately from brushing and flossing. And if you rinse after you brush your teeth, it may be time to rethink that order.
According to dentists, it is best to floss first, then rinse, then brush. Even if you really don’t like the residue of toothpaste in your mouth, that layer of toothpaste is doing a very important job for preventing cavities.
What Happens When You Rinse After You Brush?
The main ingredient in most toothpastes is fluoride. Fluoride plays a key role in protecting the enamel and strengthening the teeth against decay. To get the most benefit from the fluoride in your toothpaste, it’s best to leave it on the teeth.
When you rinse after you brush, it actually washes away the fluoride that needs to stay on the surface of the teeth and be absorbed. Even if you rinse with a fluoride mouthwash, it is still best to rinse before brushing or at a different time so the fluoride has a chance to work.
What Happens When You Rinse Before Flossing?
Flossing is important because it helps to remove food particles and plaque in the hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth. Although there is nothing harmful about rinsing before you floss, rinsing after flossing can help remove more of the food and plaque that is loosened by the flossing. Kids can start flossing as soon as they have two teeth next to each other.
Should You Use a Manual or Electric Toothbrush?
No matter what type of toothbrush you choose, the most important thing you can do is use it, preferably two times a day. While there are advantages to both kinds of toothbrushes, multiple studies have shown that electric toothbrushes are more effective at removing plaque and preventing the gum disease gingivitis compared to manual toothbrushes.
An added bonus is that kids may find using an electric toothbrush more fun once they learn proper brushing techniques, and if they are not bothered by the sound.
Tips for Good Oral Hygiene and Dental Health
In addition to brushing after you rinse and floss, a good overall oral hygiene routine can go a long way toward long-term dental health for young and adult patients alike. Here are some practical tips to keep you and your child’s smile healthy and happy:
- Brush twice a day for two minutes.
- It is possible to overbrush, so you don’t need to brush longer or more than twice a day.
- Whether you use a manual or electric toothbrush, soft bristled brushes that can reach to the back of the mouth are preferred.
- To get the most benefit, brush at a 45 degree angle to the gums and use short, gentle, circular strokes.
- Replace your toothbrush or head every three to four months, or when you notice the bristles are damaged.
- The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends waiting until children are at least six before using mouthwash, unless your dentist says otherwise.
- Don’t forget to brush your tongue.
- To limit tooth decay and cavities, avoid sugary snacks and beverages.
It is also important to see your dentist for regular checkups. Your dentist can help identify early problems and help you take steps to prevent problems from becoming worse. If there are early signs of tooth decay, your dentist can recommend measures including dental sealants and fillings to help.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!