The Tooth On: Brushing

December 19, 2023

The Tooth On: Brushing

Your common brushing questions answered!

Our team often gets asked great questions about brushing, so we wanted to share them with you.

My child just got her first tooth and is still nursing. Should I brush her teeth if she’s only getting breast milk?

Yes, breast milk contains sugars that, combined with bacteria, can cause decay of your child’s baby teeth. Baby teeth are temporary but important as they hold space until permanent teeth erupt. We can show you how to easily hold your baby while brushing her teeth to make it easier on both of you.

How long can I go without brushing?

Don’t go without brushing. Research shows that only 4 hours after adequate brushing that bacteria re-attach to the tooth. At first, the bacteria are not harmful, but turn acidic and damage the tooth and gums, which happens at different rates for different people based on genetics and environmental factors.

If I can only brush once a day, should it be morning or night?

You’d be surprised how easy it is to brush twice a day. Here are some suggestions:

  • Brush in the car on the way to work
  • Keep a toothbrush in your work desk
  • Put a toothbrush in a holder in your shower
  • However, if you had to pick one, make it the last thing you do before you go to bed at night.

Should I brush my tongue?

Yes! Your tongue has a lot of surface area to harbor bacteria, which will lower your mouth’s pH, increasing the acidity, and causing decay. Brushing your tongue helps remove bacteria, lower its acidity, and make your mouth less prone to cavities.

How long after I eat candy should I brush?

Immediately is fine. It’s sometimes better to wait 30 minutes to allow the sugar time to interact with the bacteria and fully contact the teeth. But don’t wait too long! After those 30 minutes, the bacteria will produce acid that dissolves the teeth to form cavities.

Should I brush my teeth after drinking a mocha or other coffee drink?

Coffee drinks typically contain sugar that is acidic and allows a better environment for cavities to form. Always brush after consuming a coffee drink or at least rinse your mouth with water. If neither is possible, chew sugar-free gum.

Should I use mouthwash, too?

Mouthwash is a great adjunct to brushing and flossing. Please get a mouthwash with zero alcohol so your mouth does not get dry. A dry mouth can create an environment for cavities.

Why is brushing for 2 minutes so important?

It’s more important to debride all the surfaces of your teeth with the toothbrush. Research has shown that 2 minutes is the time minimum time needed to remove plaque.

We'd love to answer your questions in person! 

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