Time factor in oral hygiene: Exploring the best time to floss your teeth

Time factor in oral hygiene

Everyone knows the importance of flossing, since it is one of the most important acts that guard you against gum disease and even decay.

Whether you prefer string floss, water flossers, interdental brushes or any other means of flossing, the important thing is that you make it a routine.

There are also other factors to consider to determine the best time to floss your teeth.

These two factors are:

  • Frequency –  other than wondering when is the right time to floss your teeth, what about how many times should you actually being flossing?
  • Timing – when is the best time to floss your teeth before or after brushing?

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When is the best time of day to floss your teeth?

If you don’t already know, the answer is at night time. Flossing is closely related to brushing, which means you should do both in unison. It doesn’t really matter if you floss before you brush, however here are two reasons why you should floss first:

  1. 1

    Brushing is quick and easy, but flossing takes a bit more time. So if you brush first, there is a good chance that laziness sneaks in and you'll skip flossing entirely. But if you floss first, you wouldn’t skip brushing since everyone feels much fresher after they brush.

  2. 2

    Flossing cleans and removes debris from between the teeth, and this debris often sticks to the surface of the teeth afterwards. So when you brush afterwards, you clean both the plaque on the visible surface, and the debris left by flossing.

Any dentist will advise you to brush your teeth twice daily and floss at least once also. Here’s an important factor as to why you really should floss your teeth at night before going to sleep.

Why flossing your teeth at night is important

the best time to floss your teeth. Is it at night?

This timing is for a reason and it has to do with the biological cycle of the body. At night time, all the body functions come to a reduced state of function, only enough to keep your body running and recover during sleeping. One of these functions is the flow of saliva.

Studies have shown that saliva flow is minimized during night time and sleeping hours. Saliva is one of the key factors in the process of decay and gum disease due to several reasons such as:

  • Buffering effect:
    Since saliva is alkaline in nature, due to the presence of minerals such as Calcium and Fluoride, it neutralizes the action of acids and toxins produced by bacteria in the plaque. Therefore reducing the chances of decay and gum disease.

  • Washing effect:
    Saliva is like running water and washes away parts of the debris and plaque stuck to the teeth together with the bacteria that lives within them. This in turn reduces the chances of decay and gum disease.

  • Minerals:
    Saliva is loaded with minerals, particularly Fluoride, that could deposit on the surface of the teeth for protection. When the flow of saliva is reduced, this protection is also reduced.

How saliva helps protect your teeth

So as you can tell, saliva plays a very important role in decay and gum disease control. When the flow of saliva decreases at night time, this protective effect also decreases. Which is why brushing and flossing and any other act of oral hygiene is best conducted at night time. That way when your body goes into sleep mode, there isn’t any debris, plaque or bacteria to cause any harm.

In fact, this is so important that your dentist or hygienist would advise you not to skip night time brushing or flossing at all costs. Even if you do skip the other time during the day, remember, brushing at night is the most important.

The other factor to consider when determining the best time to floss your teeth is its frequency, or in other terms:

best time to floss your teeth

How many times should I floss my teeth?

The opinions of dentist and professionals vary at this point, but most would recommend that you floss only twice or three times maximum per week. This may come as a shock after all the accolades that are spoken about flossing, but there is a key reason behind that number.

Plaque (which is the biofilm that accumulates and sticks to the surface of the teeth if left uncleaned for a while) begins to form within a few hours after you eat. If it is left uncleaned for 72 hours (three days) it begins to harden due to depositing of minerals and calcium into it from food and saliva.

It then hardens forming calculus (also know as tartar) which sticks to the surface of the teeth and cannot be removed except through a professional cleaning session.

This is essentially the first step to increased risk of gum and periodontal disease. This means that when you floss twice or three times a week, you disrupt this cycle of calculus formation, and therefore reduce these risks significantly.

If flossing is so beneficial, why not floss every day?

Let’s face it, not everyone really knows when to floss your teeth or likes doing, afterall it really isn’t that pleasant. So when it isn’t done correctly, you can end up doing more harm than good, particularly if using string floss. This is because of the hard nature of the string vs the delicacy of the gums.

The gums are loaded with delicate fibers that are responsible for its health, tone and color, and when flossing (and brushing) is done vigorously, it damages these fibers. This results in higher risks are bleeding gums, gum recession and even pocket formation on the long run.

Which is why it is best to limit the frequency of flossing to two or three times, as well as seeking advice from your dentist on how to do it properly.

The best time to floss your teeth verdict

So there you have it, the verdict is in. Night time is the best time to floss your teeth, as well as brushing. But overdoing it is not advised, or else you would risk irreversible damage to your gums.

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