We always tell our patients to brush their teeth twice a day — or, even better, after every meal. While brushing your teeth isn’t a difficult task, it does take time away from your daily schedule so we understand why frequent brushing may be a little annoying. However, the tried-and-true rule of brushing right after waking up and right before bed is non-negotiable if you want to keep tooth decay and periodontal disease at bay. Here’s why:
Why should I brush my teeth in the morning?
Brushing your teeth after waking up in the morning doesn’t just knock out morning breath — it also disturbs any plaque that managed to begin growing overnight. Plaque is a sticky white film that forms over your teeth. It’s made out of harmful bacteria that, when left alone for long enough, can produce acid that can then break down tooth enamel, causing cavities. During the day, drinking water and eating foods that contain a lot of water (like cucumbers, lettuce, and spinach) can somewhat slow the growth of plaque. At night, plaque is able to grow uninhibited for an extended period of time. This is why skipping a morning brush can be dangerous. If you don’t get rid of that plaque in the morning, after the bacteria had the chance to multiply, you increase your risk of the plaque becoming strong enough to break down your tooth enamel.
Do you have trouble remembering to brush in the morning? As with a lot of things, brushing your teeth has to become a habit. If you wake up and take a shower first thing in the morning, try brushing your teeth first, right before hopping in the shower. Make sure your toothbrush and toothpaste are sitting out on the counter, ready to go. You can also try writing a little sticky-note and putting it on your mirror as a daily reminder. Whatever you choose to do, just make sure you’re brushing in the morning. It could very well mean the difference between needing a filling at your next appointment and not.
Why should I brush my teeth before bed?
So, if you brush your teeth in the morning (and do a good job), why do you have to brush again before you go to sleep for the night? If you don’t brush your teeth after every meal, brushing your teeth before bed is necessary to remove any leftover food particles that can encourage the growth of bacteria (and thus plaque). Neglecting to brush your teeth at night is just like if you went for a run, came back to your house all sweaty, and didn’t take a shower. Your teeth need to be cleaned after encountering sugary and acidic foods and drinks throughout the day.
If you’re having trouble remembering to brush at night, remember that it needs to become part of your routine. If you put on face lotion before bed, brush your teeth first. Get into the habit of brushing before bed and before you know it, you’ll be doing it on autopilot.
Should I brush after every meal?
If you are prone to cavities or you want to take your oral and dental health to the next level, try brushing your teeth after every meal with a soft bristle brush. This will remove any dangerous sugars or acids from your teeth’s many jagged surfaces before they have the chance to become plaque. If you eat or drink something acidic, drink some water and wait at least half an hour before brushing. Immediately brushing after ingesting acids can actually hurt your dental enamel instead of helping it.
We encourage you to use a soft bristle brush because excess use of a harder bristle brush can wear down enamel over time. Brushing too often and too vigorously can be just as bad for your teeth as rarely brushing.