How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?

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How often should you brush your teeth for optimum dental health?

The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for optimal dental hygiene and health. But as you will learn if you read this article, there is more to practicing good oral hygiene than simply how frequently you brush. Everything from your tooth brushing technique to the kind of toothpaste you use influence the overall quality of your dental health.

Are you ready to learn more and discover how optimal toothbrushing can help you maintain a bright smile? Then keep on reading. 

This is why you should brush your teeth twice a day to keep them healthy and avoid tooth decay

Why is brushing your teeth twice a day so important?

The answer to this is simple. Every time you eat or drink anything that isn’t water, your teeth, tongue and the insides of your mouth are bathed in acids and bacteria. If these bacteria are not removed on a regular enough basis, they will begin to build up, harden, and attack the enamel on your teeth.

The enamel is the outer shell that keeps the insides of your teeth healthy. When your enamel becomes weakened and eventually begins to break down, your teeth can and will become infected with bacteria. This is what causes tooth decay. 

Keeping your teeth clean is the key to avoiding not only dental decay, but also other dental and oral health risks, including gum disease.

Brushing your teeth twice a day – typically in the morning after you wake up and in the evening before you go to bed – is ideal as it ensures bacteria that has built up in your mouth overnight and during the day are removed.

If you want to achieve or maintain healthy teeth and gums, it can be tempting to simply up the number of times you brush your teeth on a daily basis. But brushing your teeth too frequently can cause more harm than good. Brushing too frequently can really wear on your enamel, which ironically can lead to tooth decay and oversensitive teeth.

Oral health bonus tips

Great oral hygiene isn’t just about how often you brush your teeth; it’s also about how you brush them. Here are our top tips for how to brush your teeth better:

  • Always use a fluoride toothpaste
  • Remember to floss daily
  • Use the right toothbrush
  • Use the right brushing technique 
  • Limit your intake of acidic foods and drinks
  • Get a professional cleaning every six months

Frequently asked questions

Is brushing teeth 3 times a day excessive?

Is it OK to brush teeth once a day?

No, brushing your teeth only once a day is not ideal. It’s all right to skip once in while, but if you want to maintain good oral hygiene and keep your teeth clean and protected from decay, you should brush your teeth twice a day.

Even if you brush your teeth thoroughly, once a day is simply not enough. Every time you eat or drink anything other than water, harmful bacteria layers itself on all of your chewing surfaces. If you do not remote bacteria frequently enough, you will inevitably develop tooth decay and other oral health issues such as periodontal disease (gum disease). This is why dentists recommend daily tooth brushing.

Is brushing teeth 4 times a day too much?

Yes. While daily brushing is important, brushing too frequently can be detrimental. Too-frequent toothbrushing can break down your tooth enamel, which significantly weakens your teeth and makes them more vulnerable to decay.

Instead of brushing your teeth four times a day to improve your oral health, focus on brushing properly instead. Brush for at least two minutes every time, and use small tight circular movements rather than moving your toothbrush back and forth like a saw. If you are using a manual toothbrush, switch to an electric toothbrush. A brush with soft bristles is also better for your teeth than one with hard bristles, as these can scratch and wear on your enamel, particularly over time.

Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?

You should ideally brush your teeth after breakfast, but not immediately after. If you can, give it at least an hour after eating breakfast and particularly after consuming acidic foods before you go and brush your teeth.

The reason for this is that acidic foods and drinks such as coffee and fruit juice temporarily coats and weakens your tooth enamel. If you wait an hour or more after eating and drinking acidic foods, they have had some time to wear off before you start brushing.

On days where you are in a hurry and are not able to wait long enough before you brush your teeth after breakfast, brushing before breakfast is better than brushing either immediately after or not at all.

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.