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Floss Before or After Brushing? Why It Matters 

Flossing is an essential part of an individual's oral hygiene. It allows you to remove food particles lodged between the teeth, thus removing bacteria and plaque buildup. Plaque produces an acid that causes cavities, tooth decay, gingivitis, and other gum diseases. The tooth has five parts, and lack of routine flossing leaves two of these sections dirty. A majority of people argue about to floss before or after brushing; the next discussion seeks to clarify the issue while highlighting other important facts about flossing.

When to Floss

The subject has been a matter of much debate with most sources providing contradicting information regarding whether to floss before or after brushing. Some people argue that flossing should precede brushing because it removes bits of food and plaque that should be brushed away. They add that the fluoride in toothpaste makes better contact if the food that gets stuck between teeth is removed before brushing.

On the other hand, those who advocate for brushing before flossing argue that plaque removal should precede flossing. Flossing forces the remaining part of fluoride between the tooth spaces.

Verdict- routine flossing and brushing are important, and their order does not really matter. Both routines lengthen the life of the teeth, improve cognitive abilities, and ensure your teeth remain healthy. Unfortunately for most people, flossing is only a secondary activity; a myth they believe since childhood. On the contrary, flossing is just as important as brushing as it cleans out hard-to-reach areas of the teeth. Brushing without flossing may result in gum disease, cavities, and heart disease.

Benefits of Daily Flossing

A large number of people avoid flossing because they find it uncomfortable. Here are great benefits of flossing teeth:

To Whiten Teeth
With most brands looking to capitalize on the new tooth whitening craze, you are likely to find products such as whitening mouthwash, whitening toothpaste, and now a whitening floss. Whitening floss is designed to make teeth appear whiter. The flosses are coated with microscopic abrasive silica particles to remove stains. Other flosses come treated with calcium peroxide to rid of tooth discoloration by dissolving excess proteins that are deposited by saliva.

However, users can't rely on whitening floss to improve the appearance of teeth; it only achieves this by removing food particles and plaque instead of bleaching. Teeth look brighter when they have healthy gums. Whitening toothpaste, mouthwash, and floss only provide modest changes in tooth color. Thus, severely stained teeth, implants or tooth-colored crowns require special care to make them whiter.

Healthy Gums
Gingivitis is the principal stage of gum disease, making it the most treatable. Dentists recommend interdental cleaning through flossing to keep healthy gums. However, most people who suffer from bleeding gums avoid interdental cleaning with flossing for fear of making the condition worse. On the contrary, it improves the health of the gum by removing debris and interproximal dental plaque. Additionally, gum diseases affect the bones that support the teeth and a lower third of the face. Thus, preserving the health of that bone through flossing allows you to maintain a youthful look as you age.

Rid of Bad Breath
Chronic bad breath or halitosis lowers one's self-esteem and confidence. It is caused by poor oral habits and is often a sign of an underlying gum disease. People who don't brush and floss promote bacterial growth through the food particles that hide in teeth crannies, which cause bad breath.

Foods such as onions and garlic also cause bad breath. Apart from brushing, flossing plays a significant role in preventing bad breath by reaching those hard-to-reach areas where toothbrushes can't. Where bad breath persists despite good oral hygiene, you should consider visiting a dentist as it indicates medical conditions like liver problems, diabetes, or bronchitis.

Improved Health
Daily flossing not only contributes to oral hygiene but also the overall health of an individual. When flossing, you get to examine your mouth for unusual swelling and redness of the gums and tongue. Health problems like certain cancers, STI's, and eating disorders cause lesions in the mouth and swelling of the gums. Special floss products come in handy for people suffering from the conditions as their gums are sensitive. Note that chronically unhealthy gums increase the risk of losing teeth and the need for root canals. In such scenarios, brushing twice a day may not avoid tooth loss or protect you from gum disease.

Enhances the Benefits of Brushing
Flossing and brushing work together to preserve one's oral health. Studies show that up to 35% of tooth surfaces remain unclean when you brush and neglect flossing. Flossing dislodges bacteria and food that are trapped in the tooth crannies between teeth and gums.

Special Flossing Needs

With the right tools, flossing can be pretty easy and painless. While the standard dental floss is the most efficient tooth flossing product, the following individuals require unique flossing options:

People who wear braces or dentures should also floss. Those who don't clean their dentures properly may harbor odor-causing bacteria. They need to use special floss with a stiff end to thread beneath the main wire of the braces and a soft component that slides between the teeth.

It is important to teach children the importance of flossing at a tender age. You may start training them when they are 5-7 years of age. Use a few tricks to make flossing enjoyable as they may be less enthusiastic about it:

Develop a reward system. You may track their brushing routine on a calendar by rewarding them with a golden star every time they brush. If there is a star each day at the end of the week, you may join them on Friday night to play their favorite games as a special treat.Make brushing and flossing the family's favorite time. Introduce different types of brushes, toothpaste, and floss in the bathroom to provide various options every time they brush.

Types of Floss

1) Regular Floss

It is the traditional stringed floss, which may be waxed, unwaxed, or flavored with mint. Regular floss is made of nylon (multi-filament) floss or PTFE (monofilament) floss. Since it is composed of many nylon strands, it is prone to tearing or shredding, especially when used on teeth with tight contact points. PTFE floss easily slides between teeth and is shred-resistant. Both types of floss are perfect for removing plaque.

Waxed floss is the most prevalent kind used by people with tightly knit spaces or misaligned teeth. The wax allows you to slide the floss easily between teeth. Unwaxed floss, on the other hand, is perfect for users with ample spaces between the gums and allows them to clean along the gum line. Flavored or water flosses are ideal for those who can't use stringed flosses. They work by applying water pressure between teeth and gums to remove food particles. Water flosses are laced with mint to give off a feeling of freshness and make flossing enjoyable.

2) Floss Picks

Unlike string flosses, they allow you to use one hand when flossing. This convenience makes floss picks the most popular flossing tool of all time. However, they are not as effective as regular floss since they don't allow you to clean the hard-to-reach areas. You are supposed to floss by completing a C-shape around the tooth while going up and down to do the cleaning, thus you may not clean them efficiently.

3) Oral Irrigator

It is a new flossing device that uses a stream of jetting water to rid of plaque and food particles while improving gingival health. The machine comes with a water reservoir that connects to the gadget resembling a toothbrush. For effective flossing, adopt a 90-degree angle while pointing at the tip of the gum line.

How to Use Floss

Here are some tips for maximum benefits from flossing:

1. Winding
Unwind eighteen inches of floss around the middle finger, leaving two inches of floss to work with. Using the middle finger leaves the index finger free to control the floss. Eighteen inches feels like a lot of floss but remember you want enough floss to move from tooth to tooth. Use your thumbs to guide the floss between the upper teeth.

2. Guiding
Ensure you have one to two inches length of floss as you gently slide it up and down between your teeth. Use the index fingers to guide it between contacts of lower teeth.

3. Glide
Guide the floss between the teeth in a zigzag motion. Be careful not to allow the floss to snap between the teeth. Curve a C shape around the base of each tooth while wrapping it around the tooth. Don't force the floss through the gum as it bruises the tissue.

4. Slide
Slide the floss up and down against the surface of the tooth and beneath the gum line. Be sure to use fresh floss as you move from tooth to tooth while rolling the used floss on to the other hand. Use the same back and forth motion to remove the floss.

The technique applies to all kinds of floss; waxed, unwaxed, and water floss. Note that effective flossing depends on the technique used; the type of floss you use is only a matter of personal taste.


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