So you have your water flosser. You’ve worked out how to use it, and you can handle the pressure without splashing the whole bathroom and creating a mess. You are well on the way to improving and maintaining excellent oral health. But how often should you use your water flosser? How long should it take you each time? Should you floss then brush, or brush then floss?
We are going to discuss your last few questions about water flossing so that you can get the most out of your new water flosser.
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How Often Should I Use A Water Flosser?
Flossing is often a task which gets forgotten about, even though you remember to brush your teeth twice a day. Although surprisingly more than half of American men do not brush their teeth twice a day, and women aren’t that far ahead of them, with only 56.8% of American women brushing twice a day.
The American Dental Association suggest that not only should you be brushing your teeth twice a day, but that you should be flossing your teeth once a day. They describe these as “two critical behaviors to help prevent the risk of all oral infections.” There are many reasons to floss, but this is particularly important given that almost half of Americans have periodontitis, which is gum disease.
So we now know that whether you choose to use string floss or a water flosser, the experts recommend flossing daily, but as every mouth is different, you may need to adjust that slightly. The benefit of flossing more than once in a single day to dislodge that stubborn food debris is going to outweigh the risk of over flossing on one single occasion. Alternatively, if you have had to floss more vigorously one day to remove food, you may want to go easy or wait a day or two before your next flossing session to prevent hurting or damaging your gums.
Should I Floss First Or Brush First?
Using a water flosser regularly, no matter whether you floss before or after brushing your teeth, is going to benefit your oral health. To get the best result though, you’ll want to floss first, and here is why:
Flossing can remove large chunks of food debris or plaque, which means that your toothbrush will then be more effective. It can now reach areas that would have otherwise been blocked by the debris.
It is not only more effective, but you can see the results of the flossing better. As you floss and see exactly how much debris your water flosser removes, you will naturally want to use it more. This extra motivation is a great promotion for maintaining your oral hygiene and therefore health in the long term, not just short-term.
Having said that, if you prefer to brush first, then don’t let us talk you out of it. Flossing your teeth is an important task regardless, so it is more important that you continue flossing regularly, rather than worrying about the order.
If you haven’t already bought one, then check out our buyer’s guide where we discussed some of the best water flossers available to buy.
When Should I Floss My Teeth?
The ideal time to floss your teeth is before you brush them, just before you go to bed.
As mentioned above, this first removes food debris and plaque and makes brushing your teeth more effective. Flossing them in the evening is best because it is normally overnight that you will go the longest without food or drink. Therefore you give your mouth a thorough clean before you go to bed.
Remember though, that as with the order of flossing and brushing, there is technically no wrong answer to this. If you have food debris that you want to remove, the floss away. If you are usually too tired to even think about flossing your teeth before bed, then fit it in when it suits you. Finding a routine that you can stick to is much better, it is not the time that is important, as long as you are regularly flossing.
What About Mouthwash?
We think of mouthwash as the final stage of oral hygiene. Make sure you use one that contains fluoride, otherwise you will just rinse out the fluoride in your toothpaste and not replace it.
Alternatively, you can use mouthwash occasionally for the flossing stage. Remember though that to maintain its antibacterial efficacy, you will need to use it neat, which will make your flossing much more expensive.
Overall, we would recommend using mouthwash after you have flossed and brushed your teeth.
You should now have more of an understanding of how to get the most out of your water flosser.
The most important thing to remember is that it is not the order, or time of day which is important, it is the act of flossing your teeth with your water flosser regularly – daily ideally. Fit it in at a time that suits you, alongside brushing your teeth twice daily in a routine you can stick to, and you will improve and maintain your oral health for years to come.
I like to do it in this order at night time:
1. Use water flosser to remove food debris and plaque from between teeth.
2. Use a mouthwash that contains fluoride (usually 225ppm) and antibacterial agents (cetylpyridinium chloride) to flush that debris and plaque from my mouth.
3. Wait 15-30 minutes to allow the fluoride and antibacterial agent to take effect, decreasing the bacterial load in my mouth and allowing the fluoride time to take action.
4. Brush teeth using an electric toothbrush, using a toothpaste that contains 1250ppm fluoride. Spit out excess toothpaste and then allow remaining, concentrated fluoride to sit on the teeth until breakfast the next morning.
The following morning, after eating breakfast, I’ll use the mouthwash to remove breakfast food particles and then allow 15-30 minutes before brushing my teeth again. I don’t brush immediately after eating as according to some sources, this can damage tooth enamel.
I’ll use mouthwash, but not brush, after eating lunch as well.
After breakfast: Mouthwash, wait 15-30mins, brush
After lunch: Mouthwash, nothing else
Before bed: Water floss, mouthwash, wait 15-30mins, brush