How often do you brush your teeth?
The standard that many people grew up hearing from their dentist is “Brush twice a day.” But when should you brush? What if you can only brush one time – when should you do it to be most effective? If twice is good then would four times be better? Is there a bad time to brush?
Our basic advice – Brush twice a day for two minutes each time.
To make things a little more clear we have some additional tidbits for you to keep in mind.
Why Do We Need to Brush?
- Sugary foods, especially sticky or liquid varieties that coat your teeth, is food for bacteria. As the bacteria metabolize the sugar they produce acids that lead to gum disease and cavities.
- Acidic foods are just as detrimental to teeth for the same reasons as sugary foods. Except they’re acidic from the very beginning.
Eating or drinking something acidic lowers the pH of a mouth and it can take a long time for it to return to normal. Acid demineralizes your teeth and weakens the tooth surface, leaving it vulnerable to decay.
Why Do We Need to Brush?
Brushing After Breakfast?
Naturally, many people think that it’s a good idea to brush your teeth after breakfast, and it is, for the most part. Cleaning your teeth after a meal means that you clean off all the food particles and bacteria from your teeth. So what can go wrong? Well, that all depends on what you had for breakfast.
Are you partial to a bit of orange juice in the morning? Maybe half a grapefruit with a bit of sugar on top? Do you enjoy sugary breakfast cereals? These high acidic and sugar foods and drinks cause tooth enamel to weaken, so if you brush too soon after eating, you can cause some real damage to tooth enamel. This is because the bacteria in your mouth, fed on sugars, can produce acids which cause the overall pH levels in your mouth to drop below normal, making your tooth enamel “softer” and more vulnerable to abrasion, even from your soft-bristled toothbrush. If you are aware of your desire for something acidic or sugary in the morning, the best thing to do would be to brush before you eat breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after your meal to brush.
Brushing your teeth while your mouth’s pH level is too low can actually cause more damage. Your toothbrush and toothpaste are abrasive and will etch your weakened tooth surface even more.
Brushing Before Bed?
Sure, you can brush your teeth before dinner if you really want. But we do not advise going to bed without having brushed your teeth. Before bed is when you should floss, as well. Think of it as a way to really cleanse your teeth and gums of all the bad bacteria that has been accumulated throughout the day. More bacteria and plaque accumulates as you sleep, especially if you’re the type to sleep with your mouth open. This makes your mouth dry, which means that there is less saliva to wash the bacteria from your teeth.
Are Material & Design of Toothbrush Really Important?
Your toothbrush can cause more damage just by how it’s made. Nylon threads are sliced to make an even row of bristles, but the cut leaves a very jagged edge on the bristles. Most high quality toothbrushes will undergo another step that softens the edges into domes. The rounded edges are far less abrasive on your teeth but just as effective at removing debris. Even if your toothbrush had rounded edges when you took it out of the package, regular use will cause them to get worn back, jagged, and split – making them more abrasive. When you start noticing your toothbrush getting worn go ahead and replace it. If you wait until the bristles are splayed then it’s too late.
What to Do If You Do Not Have Access to Your Toothbrush?
- Rinse your mouth with water. This will help restore your mouth’s pH to a normal level.
- Rinsing with an antibacterial mouthwash will help to prevent plaque from producing more acids which is a big step in keeping your pH levels balanced as well.
- Chew some cheese. Chewy things will make you salivate, and the proteins in your saliva help to block the acids. And the chemicals that naturally occur in cheese help to re-mineralize teeth.
- Sugarless gum is another great option. Again, the chewing action stimulates your saliva production which, in turn, helps to balance your mouth’s pH. Some studies have also shown that Xylitol, a sweetening agent, has properties that prevent cavities.
Timing of Brushing
Bedtime is the most critical time to brush your teeth. You salivate less at bedtime which allows bacteria and acids to spend more time weakening your tooth surface. If you brush before bed then you’ll be reducing the number of culprits that can damage your teeth.
So to answer our earlier questions – You should brush before bedtime and thirty minutes after eating a sugary or acidic meal. If you can only brush once, brush before bed. Brushing more often is not necessarily better because you could potentially be weakening your teeth. The worst time to brush is after eating or drinking something acidic – rinse with water instead.
Here’s a little summary:
Brush 2x a day.
Brush for at least 2 minutes each time.
If you can only brush once, brush at bedtime.
Rinse with water after sugary or acidic foods.
Use new, good quality brushes.
Tips to Help Keep Your Teeth Clean
1. Use Proper Technique:
It doesn’t matter how often you brush your teeth if you’re not doing it properly. Next time you brush, take a moment to stop and observe your technique. Are you holding the brush at a 45-degree angle? Are you using short, circular motions with the head of the brush pointed towards your gum line? Are you brushing each tooth between 10 and 15 times?
If the answer to any of those questions was no, it’s time to adjust your tooth brushing technique a bit. Those techniques have been proven to be the most effective when it comes to getting teeth clean. Although, rotary mechanical brush is very common today and it does the job without needing a lot of personal dexterity.
Flossing helps you get places you can’t reach with a toothbrush clean, leading to healthier teeth and gums. Just like brushing, though, flossing will not be as effective if you’re not doing it properly. Improper flossing can even lead to damaged gums if you’re not careful.
To truly clean between your teeth without causing damage, keep the following steps in mind.
First, wrap about two inches of floss between your fingers and unroll a fresh section for each tooth. Keep the floss tight against the tooth to break up plaque without hurting your gums. Also, be sure to floss behind the last tooth(molar) in your mouth to ensure a thorough clean.
3. Don’t Over Do It:
It can be tempting to aggressively brush your teeth to make sure you get them clean. However, using too intense of a motion when brushing can make your teeth more porous and sensitive. Also, overly vigorous brushing can lead to gum recession, which is irreversible.
Be gentle, otherwise, your regular brushing will start to be a hindrance to your overall oral health.
4. Chew Gum:
Although it’s ideal to brush your teeth after each meal, sometimes that’s easier said than done. Keeping a pack of sugar-free gum around can freshen your breath and help get rid of excess food residue in between brushings.
Chewing gum increases saliva production. Saliva’s natural antibacterial properties will help prevent bacteria from feeding off food remnants in your mouth, which can lead to plaque build-up and dental decay.
5. Clean Your Teeth While You Eat:
You already know that sugar and soda can negatively affect your dental health, but did you know there are certain foods that can improve it?
Regularly eating “detergent” foods — firm and crisp foods like raw carrots, apples, celery, and popcorn — can help cut down on plaque. They’re not a substitute for brushing, of course, but if you can’t brush your teeth when you’re finished eating, ending your meal with one of these foods will help keep your oral health in check.
Does This Mean I Can Skip the Dentist Altogether?
Since you know how to better care for your teeth, does that mean you don’t have to visit the dentist anymore? Sadly, no. Regular cleanings from a dental hygienist will help you keep your oral health in check and alert you to potential issues sooner. Remember, the sooner your dentist learns about an issue, the less painful it will be to fix it.
What Happens If You Don’t Get Regular Dental Hygiene?
Not getting a regular dental hygiene can have some pretty serious consequences. In addition to putting yourself at risk for cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss, poor oral care can also negatively affect your overall health. Your risk of experiencing cardiovascular disease, premature labour & low weight birth for pregnant women, infections, and diabetic complications, all increase when you don’t take good care of your teeth and gums.