Brushing your teeth is important at every age. Sure, there were childhood and adolescent days when you probably skipped the brushing, or didn’t brush as thoroughly as you should have, perhaps feeling smug about getting one over on mom and dad. But even five-year-olds wake up and want to brush their morning breath away. And, if you don’t brush well before bed, that morning nastiness can be even worse.

You’re a grown-up now – so don’t put your oral health in jeopardy by skipping brushing and flossing before bed.

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Why Brushing Your Teeth Is So Important

Brushing your teeth immediately before bed isn’t critical, but it is important to brush your teeth at least twice in a 24-hour period. Plaque is constantly at work in your mouth, building up on your teeth because of ever-present bacteria. The bacteria in your mouth aren’t shy about doing their job of producing acid throughout the day, especially when you’re eating. Neglecting to scrub this bacteria and acid away at least twice a day is what allows the plaque in your mouth to mature and begin invading your tooth enamel.

The longer you go without brushing your teeth, the harder it is to remove the plaque that has settled there, and the more in danger you are of developing tooth decay – which means you’ll need to have a cavity filled sooner rather than later.

The dental recommendation of brushing your teeth when you wake and before you go to bed is in place mostly to encourage people to develop a good habit. (And don’t you just want to clean the night off of your teeth, and clean a day’s worth of eating off of your teeth too?) Your oral health efforts at home, combined with bi-annual visits to your dentist for a professional teeth cleaning, work together as a solid preventive care plan that gives you a healthy, pain-free smile. What you need to know before you choose DIY teeth whitening >>

Best Practices for Brushing Your Teeth

There are right ways and there are wrong ways to brush your teeth. Any brushing, of course, is good, but there are some techniques that should be finessed to give your teeth and gums maximum benefit:

  • Brush gently. You are not cleaning your teeth better by brushing harder. The bacteria and acids that have built-up on your enamel since your last tooth-brushing – which ideally was only about 12 hours prior – are still surface issues. You can brush gently and still do a great job of cleaning your teeth. Plus, brushing too hard will eventually damage your gums and could even cause recession. Don’t try to make up for lost brushing time with a heavier hand, just brush a little longer to make sure you remove day-old (hopefully no longer) plaque.
  • Don’t brush right after dinner. Once you’ve finished your last meal of the day, and know that you won’t be eating anything else before bed, you may be tempted to brush immediately. But brushing right after dinner could be damaging to your tooth enamel because acid exposure peaks at dinnertime, softening the surface layer of your enamel. Brushing at this point could cause tooth erosion, so it’s a good idea to sit at the table and wait at least 30 to 60 minutes before brushing.
  • Limit snacking. While it might seem like snacking has nothing to do with brushing your teeth, it has everything to do with oral health. The more times you eat during the day, the more you stimulate the bacteria in your mouth. Yes, saliva levels increase as you eat a meal, aiding in digestion and helping to wash off your teeth, but repeatedly exposing your teeth to food means you have more acid in your mouth for bacteria to feast upon.

Ultimately, do yourself a favor and simply brush your teeth before bed so that you don’t go into hours of sleep with bacteria sitting on your saliva-light teeth. Floss at least once a day, not just because you’ve eaten a chewy protein or crunchy veggie that’s gotten stuck between your teeth, but to rid the spaces between your teeth of bacteria that has been building up over the day.

Ready to schedule your next dental appointment? Contact Dr. Shaista Najmi at Ivory Dental in Jacksonville, Florida, and don’t forget to ask about our new dental membership – an easy plan to help you stay on track with your oral health.

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