One thing social media is definitely good at is blowing things out of proportion. So it shouldn’t be too surprising that one of the most recent tempests in a teapot was over tooth brushing. It seems that people were divided over the issue of whether they should wet their toothbrush first, then add the toothpaste or add the toothpaste first, then wet it.
The truth is that proper tooth brushing is important, since taking care of your teeth can help you live longer. So let us take the time to resolve this and a couple other controversies about brushing your teeth.
Toothpaste First or Water First?
The answer to this controversy is simple: neither. You don’t actually have to add water to your toothbrush before brushing your teeth. Your mouth should generate enough saliva to break down the toothpaste when you’re brushing. If it’s not, well, that’s a different problem altogether.
Maybe you’re putting too much toothpaste on your toothbrush. We know that toothpaste ads and boxes show a nice s-shaped curl of toothpaste, but in truth you only need a small amount, about the size of a pea, to benefit from your toothpaste.
But if you have just a pea of toothpaste and your saliva still can’t break it down, maybe you’re not producing enough saliva. This is more than just a problem when you’re brushing your teeth, because saliva is constantly working to keep your mouth healthy, and if you don’t have enough, then you are at risk for oral health problems.
But what if your toothbrush is too rigid and needs water to soften it before you brush? That’s usually a sign that your toothbrush isn’t getting cleaned well enough. Make sure to clean your toothbrush properly every time, and you’ll find the bristles stay pliable wet or dry. If not, it’s time to replace your brush.
How Often Should We Brush?
Many of us were told that we should brush after every meal. This may have been the prevailing wisdom for a while, but now we generally recognize that it’s also possible to brush your teeth too much as well as too little. Brushing too often and too vigorously can damage your teeth, wearing away your enamel and can harm your gums, leading to receding gums.
For most people, brushing twice a day is sufficient. (And don’t forget to floss once!) If you are going to brush more than twice a day, do additional brushing without toothpaste. Toothpaste is the abrasive part of the cleaning formula, so it’s the one that’s easiest to overdo. And using toothpaste doesn’t actually help with plaque removal!
Should I Floss before or after I Brush?
Most of us were taught to floss after brushing. But some people advocate flossing first so that toothpaste can penetrate between teeth and its fluoride can help strengthen the enamel there, too.
But, of course, this neglects that the toothbrush could also be pushing plaque and debris back between teeth you just cleaned.
These are all fine points that probably don’t make much of a difference. The best answer in this controversy is that you should floss when you’re most likely to do it. If you’re an irregular flosser because you often decide to give up after brushing, then switching to floss first can help you do it more reliably. Regular flossing is critical to protecting yourself from gum disease.
Need a Refresher Course on Brushing?
If you think your oral hygiene techniques are lacking, or if you’re overdue for a checkup in Orange County, we can help. Please call (949) 551-5902 today for an appointment with a dentist at Rice Dentistry in Irvine.