Dental hygiene is very essential and something as simple as brushing your teeth can go a long way in keeping your dental health in order. Taking care of your teeth is an important part of your overall health, and it starts with proper brushing and oral hygiene, says Dr Nirali Patel, Smile Design Expert & Oral Implantologist FICOI, USA. “Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste helps to remove food debris, the sticky film of bacteria that builds up on teeth and causes cavities and gum disease. Make sure you brush all surfaces of each tooth, including the backside, and that you brush for at least 2 minutes. In addition to brushing, it’s important to floss daily to remove plaque and food particles between teeth, where your toothbrush can’t reach,” shares Dr Patel. She adds that regular visits to the dentist for a professional cleaning and check-up are also important for good oral health.
Dos and Don’ts of Brushing Teeth
- Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and hydroxyapatite/fluoride toothpaste
- Brush in a circular motion, making sure to reach all surfaces of the teeth
- Brush for at least 2 minutes, aiming to spend equal time on each segment of the mouth
- Rinse your mouth with water after brushing
- Avoid brushing too hard, which can damage the enamel and gums
- Don’t forget to brush the tongue to remove bacteria
- Don’t rinse with water or mouthwash immediately after brushing, as this can reduce the effectiveness of the anti-cavity agent in the toothpaste
- Don’t forget to floss, as it helps remove plaque and food debris from between your teeth
Why it may be better to brush before breakfast
The time of brushing teeth has often been a point of contention. While most of us brush our teeth first thing in the morning, many believe it’s best to brush post breakfast. “Brushing your teeth before breakfast can be beneficial for your oral health. It helps to remove any plaque or bacteria that has built up on your teeth overnight, reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Additionally, brushing before breakfast can help to freshen your breath and get rid of any bad taste from the night before. Taking a few minutes to brush your teeth in the morning can help keep your mouth healthy and make your breakfast taste even better,” shares Dr Patel.
She explains that while we sleep, plaque-causing bacteria in our mouths multiply. “That’s part of why you may wake up with a “mossy” taste and “morning breath.” Washing those bacteria right out with fluoride toothpaste rids your teeth of plaque and bacteria. It also coats your enamel with a protective barrier against acid in your food,” she says.
When you brush first thing in the morning, you also jump-start your saliva production. Your saliva helps your food break down and naturally kills harmful bacteria in your mouth.
Brushing teeth after breakfast
If you want to get rid of lingering breakfast bits before then, drinking or swishing water will help. “Finally, while it’s true that the bacteria present in your mouth right after waking up will feast on your breakfast and produce damaging acids, most people eat breakfast pretty quickly – usually completing their meal within 10 to 15 minutes. That isn’t enough time to do a ton of damage, so again, the benefits of brushing after breakfast – being able to rid your mouth of any food particles and leave fluoride on your teeth – outweigh the negative effects of whatever acids might be produced by bacteria while you are eating,” says Dr Patel.
She says that if it works better for an individual’s morning routine to brush after breakfast, one can still do so, but here’s some information to keep in mind:
– Brushing immediately after eating breakfast may actually cover your teeth with remnants of acidic food, which weakens your enamel. Breakfast staples are some of the worst foods for your tooth enamel, including orange juice, citrus fruit, dried fruit, bread and pastries. So, brushing may be particularly bad for your teeth right after breakfast.
– Waiting 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush your teeth is the best way to ensure that you’re protecting your teeth and not tampering with your enamel.
The Bottom Line
Ultimately, the decision boils down to what works for you, because the science is sparse, and “there is no consensus in the literature.”