How Many Times a Day Should I Brush My Teeth?

This is a question dentists hear quite often.  And would you be surprised to learn that the answer is not always the same?  We make a lot of general recommendations, especially in our website content.  However, we want to make sure that all of our patients understand that a customized approach is always the best!

What is the General Recommendation?

In general, for good oral health, you should brush your teeth two times a day.  You should also aim for specific times of the day.  Brushing your teeth should serve as the bookends of your day.  The best times to brush are just after breakfast as you begin your day and just before bedtime as your day ends.

If you don’t typically eat breakfast, you should brush soon after waking or after your morning routine.  This can be more difficult in the days of quarantine and working from home.  Many of us are not leaving the house every morning, so we may have a tendency to put off our morning routines.  Whether you leave the house or even get dressed for the day, remember the importance of starting the day with a clean mouth.

The same goes for your bedtime routine.  Schedules may be looser and bedtimes later, but going to sleep with clean teeth is as important as ever.  Some people should commit to brushing after dinner so that they don’t fall asleep on the couch and forget to brush!

What Factors Influence How Often Someone Should Brush His or Her Teeth?

The purpose of brushing teeth is to remove disease-causing dental plaque.  When plaque remains on the teeth, the bacteria within produce toxins that lead to gum disease and acid that causes cavities.  Removing plaque on a consistent basis is essential to maintaining good oral health.  How often you should remove plaque depends on a variety of factors that influence the quality and quantity of your personal plaque buildup.  These are just a few problems that could lead to increased plaque buildup, necessitating more frequent brushing.

Dry Mouth

Saliva is an important defense against gum disease and cavities.  Millions of Americans suffer from dry mouth as the result of prescription medication side effects, destruction of salivary gland tissue by cancer treatment, and simply dehydration.  It makes sense that plaque will more readily stick to a dry surface than to a wet one.  If the teeth and gums are dry, dental plaque can easily adhere.

In a dry mouth, the consistency of plaque becomes stickier and more difficult to remove from the teeth.  Those with dry mouth also tend to collect more plaque, especially along the gum lines of the teeth.

Severe Acid Reflux or GERD

People who suffer from problems with severe acid reflux or GERD have a low (acidic) pH in the mouth.  As stomach acid forces its way out of the stomach and up the esophagus, it often makes its way into the mouth.  The bacteria in dental plaque thrive in an acidic environment.  In order to fight the damage of acid and prevent the dangers of erosion and cavities, you must be diligent in removing dental plaque on a consistent basis.

Hormone Swings

The large hormone surges that accompany puberty, pregnancy and menopause do not increase the amount of dental plaque a person develops.  They do, however, influence the response of the gum tissues to that plaque buildup.  Hormone swings cause the gums to overreact to any irritation, so even a tiny amount of dental plaque can lead to severe gingivitis with bright red, swollen gums that bleed easily.

Anyone undergoing hormonal changes needs to consistently remove dental plaque from the teeth and gums to lower the risk of tender, swollen, bleeding gums.  This may require more frequent brushing.

How Can I Find Out How Often I Should Brush My Teeth?

The very best way to find out how often you, specifically, should be brushing your teeth is to have a conversation with your dental hygienist.  The hygienist is in the best position to evaluate your plaque buildup and the effectiveness of your current brushing habits.  (The hygienist is actually even better than the dentist because the dentist typically sees your teeth after the hygienist has cleaned them.  The hygienist has the chance to assess the plaque levels before any cleaning takes place.)

Be honest about your current brushing routine.  Your dental hygienist will evaluate the amount, location, and characteristics of your plaque buildup.  She will assess your various risk factors and your ability to remove the plaque.  This will allow her to make a customized recommendation on brushing frequency for your optimal oral health!

More Questions about Brushing?

Call Timberlake Dental today at 940-382-1750 to schedule a visit with one of our skilled and knowledgeable dental hygienists.  They can assess your current brushing technique and make specific recommendations for your best routine.

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