By Drs. Seth and Dana Keiles, Northern Westchester Dental Care
One of the most common questions dental patients want to know is how often they should brush their teeth. Many people have formed a habit of brushing once a day, usually in the morning, and often after breakfast, to help them have fresher breath during the day. However, tooth brushing is about more than avoiding embarrassment from bad breath at the office or at school—it’s about keeping your teeth healthy and reducing your risk for cavities and gum disease. So how often should you brush your teeth daily to maintain the best dental health?
(At Least) Twice a Day.
The official recommendation from the American Dental Association is to brush your teeth a minimum of twice a day—typically in the morning and before bedtime, and for at least two minutes each time. The majority of dentists agree with this recommendation, and so do we. A twice-a-day tooth brushing habit will remove harmful bacteria, plaque and acids from your teeth so they can’t do damage to your teeth or gums.
Can I Brush My Teeth More Often?
Some dentists recommend brushing your teeth three times a day, typically after every meal. While this habit certainly can’t hurt, most people have work or school during the day, and it’s not always convenient to carry a toothbrush around for a midday brushing session. For most people, twice a day is enough to keep cavities and gum disease at bay. If you feel compelled to brush your teeth even more often (like after snacks), you won’t necessarily damage your teeth, but the excessive brushing might irritate your gums needlessly.
Can I Get Away with Once a Day?
A large number of people feel like they’ve done their duty by brushing only once a day. The problem with this mentality is that it gives harmful acids and bacteria a full 24 hours each day to eat away at your teeth and gums. For that reason, we advise sticking with the ADA minimum of twice a day. If you’re determined to keep brushing as a once-a-day habit, you’ll do the most good by brushing at night before bed, as this will keep bacteria and acids from working on your teeth overnight.
Daily toothbrushing may feel like chore—twice a day even more so—but developing this habit will go a long way toward keeping your teeth clean and healthy. Think of it this way: Spending a few extra minutes in front of the mirror will always be better (and cheaper) than the additional visits you’ll have to schedule in our office by not brushing enough.