Many times throughout the day, I get asked about sequence of brushing and flossing. Hope the following clears things up.
I tell my patients to brush twice a day and floss just once. This is the minimum requirement. If you can do more, especially after a meal, it is preferred. I tell everyone to brush after breakfast and not before if possible. In the morning, many people rush to get to work. If you find it difficult to brush after breakfast, then do it before. At night, right after dinner, floss and brush.
Do not wait for bedtime because of two reasons. Reason number one is by bedtime, all I want to think about is my pillow. By bedtime, I get lazy and sleepy. The last thing I want to think about is my oral hygiene. The second reason is that within twenty minutes of eating, acid levels peak inside the mouth. I eat dinner around 7 pm and go to bed by about 11:30pm. That is 4.5 hours that bacterial acids will be inside the mouth causing decay. So by flossing and brushing right away, you will lower your chance of tooth decay.
Reason two is that patients claim to be busy. It takes a total of about 5 minutes a day to follow the sequence above. No one is busy enough to neglect your teeth and your health.
Sequence of oral hygiene at night is a bit different than in the morning time because flossing is thrown into the mix. Although I rather everyone follow this technique after ever meal, I realize the compliance will go down. So, the following is the sequence I recommend:
- Brush your tongue
- Fluoride rinse or other rinses as recommended by your dentist. Stay away from over-the-counter products containing alcohols.