There’s a good deal of controversy about the most effective times to brush your teeth. The American Dental Association (ADA) has long recommended brushing teeth twice a day for a full two minutes. But what these guidelines don’t explain is exactly when to do your brushing.
Good oral health is not only important to your mouth, teeth and gums, but can affect the health of your whole body, says the Mayo Clinic. Studies show that oral bacteria and the inflammation associated with it might have an important role in some diseases. Your oral health may contribute to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia. Taking care of your pearly whites also takes care of your overall health.
According to Healthline, most people brush every morning and night to establish a good routine. While there is little controversy over brushing your teeth (and flossing) before bedtime to ensure that food particles and bacteria are removed from your teeth, the big question appears to be should you brush before or after breakfast?
Some experts insist that brushing before breakfast removes the bacteria that accumulated overnight and is beneficial for tooth enamel and overall dental health. This method removes that nasty taste from your mouth that causes “morning breath.” When you brush your teeth first thing in the morning you also jump start your saliva system.
If brushing after breakfast works better for you, make sure you avoid eating or drinking acidic foods, such as orange juice, citrus fruit, dried fruit, bread, and pastries. Brushing after breakfast will coat your teeth with remnants of acid that can weaken the enamel. The ADA recommends you wait 60 minutes after eating before you brush, especially after eating acidic foods. You can also drink water or chew sugar-free gum to clean your teeth before you brush.
It's also important how you brush your teeth. Whether you use an electric or standard toothbrush, take a full two minutes to clean your teeth, concentrating on 30 seconds for each quadrant. Use a small amount of water and dab a pea-sized portion of fluoride toothpaste on the bristles. Angle the brush so that you reach the gum line and other hard-to-reach spots.
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, a leading medical expert from Orlando, Florida, says that using toothpicks is ineffective at removing food particles and plaque.
“Flossing helps to remove plaque and food between your teeth that your toothbrush cannot reach,” he says. “Flossing after your brush can leave extra food particles between your teeth. So, I recommend flossing first before you brush.”
Mirkin recommends waiting before rinsing your mouth or using mouthwash that could remove fluoride the toothpaste left on your teeth. Replace your toothbrush every three to four months as frayed bristles are less effective at removing food particles and plaque from your teeth.
“Water flossers, also called ‘water piks’, work by applying a pressurized stream of pulsating water to clean away food particles, bacteria, and plaque between the teeth and under the gumline. You may want to use a water pik if you wear braces, have nonremovable bridgework, have crowns or loose teeth,” notes Mirkin. “Check with your dentist.”
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