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Is it okay to brush your teeth once per day?

Woman smiling as she holds a toothbrush close to her mouth to brush her teeth with

Throughout our lives, we are always told to be sure to brush our teeth at least twice per day. But how important is it really to brush twice per day? What are the risks, if any, of only brushing once? As we get older, we experience more priorities and challenges that may shake up our daily routines. This might include brushing our teeth. If you are running late for work in the morning, you might just rinse your mouth with some mouthwash or chew gum to freshen up your breath. If you had a late night, you may skip brushing your teeth and head straight to bed for an early morning the next day. So, is it okay to brush only once per day? The short answer is: sometimes. While it is actually okay – on occasion – to only brush your teeth once per day, you should not let this become a habit. Brushing at least once during the day is always better than not brushing at all.

Why do we brush twice per day?

Brushing twice per day is recommended by the ADA in order to protect against gum disease, cavities, and other health issues including heart disease. One of the most important reasons for brushing twice daily is to avoid the formation of tartar. If plaque is left on the teeth for more than 24 hours, the sticky film hardens into a surface that is difficult to remove without the help of a professional cleaning. One of the biggest issues with brushing only once per day is that we often do so at inconsistent times, which makes it easier for tartar to form. Going longer than 24 hours without brushing also means that trace amounts of food particles from breakfast the day before could still be lingering in tough-to-reach spots, including between our teeth.

Additionally, brushing consistently twice per day helps aid in a process known as “mineralization,” which strengthens the teeth and prevents cavities from forming. Mineralization and “demineralization” are normal processes. Demineralization can become dangerous, however, if the damage is not restored. Brushing twice per day helps to clean the teeth of acid-producing bacteria that can cause damage to the teeth over time.

Brushing your teeth at least twice per day also helps to contribute to a whiter smile, because it removes some of the pigments that could otherwise reach the dentin and cause stains. Although some stains need to be removed professionally, light surface stains can still be avoided with frequent brushing.

Some other reasons to brush at least twice per day include:

  • Prevention of bad breath
  • Improving the health of the gums
  • Helps in the production of tooth-protecting saliva

When is the best time to brush your teeth?

If you only brush once per day, you risk losing important protection that can help protect your teeth from decay. Brushing during the morning and at night are both crucial to maintaining positive oral health.

In the morning

Brushing your teeth in the morning, after breakfast, helps to remove any food particles that may be left in the mouth that would otherwise allow for plaque to grow during the day. For most people, it may be several hours until our next meal – which is time where the teeth could be repairing themselves through the mineralization process. As long as you avoid sugary snacks or drinks, like candy and soda, your mouth can use this time (with the help of beneficial minerals found naturally in saliva) to repair the enamel. Drinking tap water can also help to keep teeth clean during the day as this washes away any food particles left on the teeth. Additionally, small amounts of fluoride (a naturally-occurring mineral that helps repair enamel) is often found in tap water, which can add further protection.

It can sometimes be dangerous, however, to brush your teeth immediately after eating. Brushing too soon after eating can cause certain foods (particularly those that have high acidity) to spread around the mouth, which in turn can damage teeth. It is generally best to wait about an hour after eating before brushing your teeth.

At night

During the night, our capacity to produce saliva is often at its lowest – which is an opportune time for plaque and other harmful bacteria to cause damage to our teeth. Acids are no longer washed away due to the lack of saliva. By not brushing our teeth at night, we lose out on any protection. This leaves our teeth vulnerable. If you are consuming foods that are sticky, such as bread and rice, particles can easily get stuck on or between teeth in hard-to-reach places that make it easy for plaque to develop. Brushing your teeth before you fall asleep provides protection to your teeth and helps to prevent these issues from developing (or getting worse) while you sleep.

Do I need to brush three times per day?

As I child, you may remember hearing that it was important to brush three times per day, often after every meal. It isn’t necessary, however, to brush three times per day (although it is not necessarily bad for you). In fact, some studies have shown brushing three times per day may lead to better heart health. If you do decide to brush more frequently, it is important to make sure you are brushing your teeth correctly. If you brush too vigorously, you may end up damaging the enamel on your teeth, which could lead to other issues.

Tips to brushing your teeth properly

If you find yourself only brushing your teeth once per day, it is especially important to make sure that you are brushing the right way. Even if you brush twice or more, poor brushing can be detrimental to your oral health. Here are some tips to make sure you truly benefit when brushing your teeth.

Use a new toothbrush

You should change your toothbrush once every four months, as this will ensure that the bristles are fresh. Over time, our toothbrushes naturally wear down and they become less effective at cleaning. Additionally, germs, bacteria, and even fungus can grow on that really old toothbrush that you are trying to clean your teeth with, which is why it is important to replace your brush at least every 4 months.

Brush for the right amount of time

Generally, we are told to brush our teeth for two minutes. This is because it gives us enough time to ensure that we reach all of the areas of the mouth. If you have trouble keeping track of how much time you spend brushing your teeth, an electric toothbrush may benefit you. Many electric toothbrushes will automatically shut off after two minutes. Some may even pause every 30 seconds, which “tells” you to move to a new section of your mouth.

Use an electric toothbrush

Several studies have found that electric toothbrushes are more effective at cleaning teeth than manual ones. In a study that was conducted for an 11-year period, researchers found that the use of electric toothbrushes resulted in 22% less gum recession and 18% less tooth decay. An electric toothbrush, however, is only as effective as the rest of your oral care routine, which should include flossing at least once per day as well as rinsing with mouthwash.

Schedule your dental checkup

If you have been neglecting your teeth, it may be a good time to schedule your dental checkup. You can visit any of our Dental365 locations by contacting us at (844) 365-DENTAL for more information, or by scheduling an online appointment today!


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