It turns out that there is a proper sequence to cleaning your teeth: flossing before brushing. A study in the Journal of Periodontology in 2018, which is published by the American Academy of Periodontology (AAP), found that flossing before brushing reduces dental plaque and helps maximize the benefits of fluoride to fight cavities. Flossing loosens bacteria and debris from between the teeth, and brushing afterwards further clears the mouth of these particles.
What is periodontal disease? The bacteria in plaque are the primary culprit behind the development of periodontal disease (commonly referred to as gum disease). Periodontitis is an inflammatory condition that occurs when bacteria accumulate below the gum line. Periodontal disease can lead to swelling, irritation, gum recession, and tooth loss if left untreated. Furthermore, periodontal disease has been linked to systemic diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
What tools do you need to properly clean your teeth? The first step to good oral hygiene is having the right tools. Here are the essentials:
- a soft-bristle toothbrush (manual or electric)
- fluoride toothpaste
See related article on the best time to brush (https://www.theorthobee.com/best-time-to-brush-your-teeth/). Note that mouthwash is optional. Chemical agents such as mouthwash can further reduce their growth and proliferation. Although antimicrobial agents can provide an effective avenue for attacking plaque, caution should be taken as their use can lead to antibiotic resistance and kill natural defenses that effectively reduce infection and inflammation. If you want fresher breath, scrape or brush your tongue. Also, resist the urge to rinse your mouth immediately after flossing and brushing, as rinsing will wash away the fluoride in your toothpaste. If you like using mouthwash for fresh breath, wait at least 30 minutes after brushing.
What are the best tools to clean teeth with braces? Many therapeutic products are available to reduce plaque and gingivitis. However, nothing takes the place of mechanical removal with brushing and flossing. When brushing, make sure to pay extra attention to brushing towards the gum line, as this is where most of the plaque accumulates.
Brushing alone only cleans three of the five surfaces of our teeth. Flossing helps prevent gum disease by removing plaque from areas the toothbrush alone cannot reach. Although flossing with braces can be tricky and time-consuming, it is even more critical to maintain good oral hygiene while in braces since there is more surface area for plaque to be retained. Here are some tools to help with flossing:
- floss pick designed for braces, like Platypus flosser or FlossFish
- floss threader and floss
- water irrigator, like the Waterpik (This option highly recommended by Dr. Bui since can be more efficient than using floss on each tooth.)
Bottom line: Having good oral hygiene not only means fresher breath, but it can also prevent cavities and gum disease as well as improve your overall health. It is especially important to maintain your regular dental check-ups and cleanings while in orthodontic treatment. Just as an apple a day may keep the doctor away, daily brushing and flossing may keep the dentist’s drill away.
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