What is the best brush, floss and mouthwash order to use for proper oral hygiene?
This a great question. Given the composition of mouthwashes available at pharmacies… here is the ideal sequence in a nutshell:
Learn The Best Mouthwash Floss & Brushing Order
Regardless of the mouthwash being used, you should always floss before you brush, so that your teeth receive the maximum topical effect from the fluoride in your toothpaste.
Toothpaste has a small degree of substantivity (stickiness) and by removing plaque and interproximal debris prior to brushing, the fluoride in your toothpaste will have more contact with your teeth and will deposit a reservoir of calcium fluoride on your teeth that will convert your enamel into a fluoridated form over time.
Brush with a Fluoridated, Low-Abrasive Toothpaste – Spit out the toothpaste thoroughly, but do not flush out residual toothpaste coating your teeth with water.
Next, you want to use your tongue scraper.
A tongue scraper is always good to have as food gets stuck in the cracks of your tongue and can cause bad breath. They say brush your tongue when you brush your teeth but a tongue scraper works much better.
Last but not least… mouthwash… in most cases.
Where you want to add the mouthwash into your routine is highly dependent upon the type of mouthwash being used.
Use after brushing – As a rule of thumb, fluoridated mouthwashes tend to be acidic. Due to studies addressing the ion replacement process occurring when you get the foamy trays at your dentist (which provides highly controlled and effective fluoridation of enamel), most people mistakenly think that acidic mouthwashes are more effective.
However, given the contact time of mouthwashes and other factors like the concentration of fluoride actually felt at the tooth surface during mouthwash use, this simply is not borne out by the facts.
Additionally, you do not want to follow an acidic exposure to your teeth (and some of these mouthwashes have a very low pH) with an abrasive event like brushing; this will cause erosion.
Ideally (based on solid chemical theory), providing a loading dose of Calcium Fluoride with toothpaste prior to using an acidic mouthwash will help provide conditions that will drive the fluoridation process.
Also, this will dramatically increase the time of contact of fluoride with your teeth after your hygiene routine (by up to an hour), which is even more important at night when your teeth are repairing themselves from any harsh acids or sugars encountered during the day.
You should also avoid any fluoridated mouthwashes that contain citric acid as a preservative, since it is a more highly buffered acid with chelation properties and causes a larger more sustained drops in pH.