Most of you are likely to exclaim, ‘What kind of a question is that? Of course it’s twice a day!’ One the one hand, you are right: American healthcare organizations recommend this pattern. But questions remain: should it be done after or before breakfast? And how many times a day are enough? Is the Korean 3-3-3 approach more effective? Read on to find it out.
Image Credit: shutterstock.com / Rasulov
When do you prefer to do your routine dental care? Is it before enjoying a cup of morning coffee? This way, your teeth are clean from the very beginning of the day, bringing you a feeling of freshness. However, once you have exposed your teeth to irritants and bacteria again, your pre-breakfast brushing is not of much help.
It really depends on your lifestyle. Some prefer to brush their teeth after breakfast because they have plenty of time to do everything at home before leaving for work. Others brush them right after waking up because they do not have breakfast at home at all.
However, it is not just a matter of preference. How often and when should one do it in order to keep teeth healthy?
According to a recommendation issued by the American Dental Association, which is supported by Mayo Clinic, brushing teeth twice a day for a couple of minutes is sufficient for dental health. Keep in mind that this recommendation covers only brushing proper, so more time is spent on flossing and using mouthwashes.
Make sure you brush teeth properly and remove all the particles that are lodged between gums and the teeth themselves, as these build-ups of decaying matter are the cause of cavities. It means that two minutes may prove to be not enough if your brushing technique is imperfect. Another case when two minutes are too a short session is when you have crooked teeth that require aligning – as there are extra spaces where food is likely to get stuck, it will take more time and efforts to remove it.
While the twice-a-day pattern is adopted in many counties and promoted by many a healthcare organization, including the NHS, there are alternatives which may show even better results.
In Korea, there is a brushing method campaign dubbed 3-3-3: it means brushing teeth 3 times a day for three minutes, and the time within which you should brush your teeth after having a meal should not exceed 3 minutes. Research shows that this approach can lead to better dental health and a lower risk of periodontal disease than in those who stick to the 2-times-a-day pattern.
As to when teeth should be brushed, i.e. before or after breakfast, it depends on what food you have for breakfast. The thing is, acidic foods, such as juices, grapefruit, tomatoes, etc., have a negative impact on your enamel, softening it and making it easier for bristles to damage it. This is why it is not recommended to brush teeth right after eating acidic foods.
Still, as soon as your meal is not acidic, you can brush them whenever you like with no significant difference in effectiveness. Most dentists recommend that you do it before breakfast – to be on the safe side, perhaps. Others highlight the importance of the kind of food just consumed for choosing the best time for brushing.
If there is nothing that prevents you from brushing teeth before eating, do it this way. However, if you prefer to postpone it till you enjoy a glass of juice with a fresh bun, wait for another hour after the meal and then proceed with brushing – by doing so, you will give your mouth enough time to remove most of the acids so that your enamel could not be damaged by the pressure of bristles.
This approach is promoted by the American Dental Association, which says one of the two brushing sessions should be before going to bed, and the other one when you find it convenient, provided you follow the advice mentioned above and avoid brushing teeth when they are exposed to acids.
When and how often should you brush your teeth? – mayoclinic.org
How to keep your teeth clean – nhs.uk