If you’re like most adult Americans, you’ve established the habit of brushing and flossing your teeth regularly. Congratulations! You’re on track to maintaining good oral health and keeping your mouth free of plaque, cavities, and gum disease.
However, there are a few extra steps that many people don’t consider before they start brushing and flossing. For example, while everyone knows to wash their hands after using the toilet, it’s much less common knowledge that we should all be washing our hands before brushing or flossing, too.
Why Is It Important to Wash Hands Before Flossing?
We’ve all been taught that putting anything dirty or germy into our mouths will immediately increase our odds of getting sick. Few people would be tempted to poke their fingers into their mouths if they knew that their hands weren’t clean, but that’s exactly what many people do when they brush and floss.
Even if your fingers aren’t directly touching the interior of your mouth, germs can spread from your hands to your toothbrush or floss and then gain easy access to your mouth. This is a quick and easy way to introduce germs into your body — not something you want to be doing twice a day as you brush your teeth!
But My Hands Aren’t Dirty!
If you haven’t been doing heavy lifting or taking the garbage out, it might be tempting to think your hands aren’t particularly dirty and don’t need to be washed before you brush your teeth. Don’t fall for it!
Germs can build up on your hands quickly, and everyday household objects often have more germs than we realize. For example, the average cell phone is carrying ten times more bacteria than a toilet seat. When you think of how often you touch your phone in a day, suddenly washing your hands becomes much more appealing.
While it’s true that brushing or flossing without washing your hands can increase your odds of getting sick, the bright side is that there’s an easy solution. Simply make washing your hands for at least twenty seconds part of your dental hygiene routine, and you won’t have to worry about any bacteria hitching a ride on your trusty toothbrush.