Is it a Myth That Brushing Twice a Day is Good for Your Teeth?

woman wearing white in front of a white background holding a red toothbrush and frowning

Why People Don’t Brush

You’re probably busy with work, school, cooking, housework, and everything in between. And when you’re not busy, there are so many other things you could be doing instead of brushing your teeth. 

It’s such a small step in your day and it might seem trivial to miss it. So, you skip it. Lots of people do. This is a common tale, as a survey from Hello Products found that one-third of millennials only brush their teeth once a day.


What Happens When You Don’t Brush

But why do you even have to brush? If you brush once a day, it might seem like enough. Your teeth look and feel clean, so why do dentists like Dr. Mike Choe say you have to brush twice a day?


Let’s say you usually brush your teeth in the morning before work. It makes sense because you want your teeth to look good for the day and your breath to smell minty fresh.


In this scenario, you won’t be brushing your teeth before bed. That means all the food particles that get stuck in between and on your teeth throughout the day will remain on your teeth all night.


Tooth decay is caused by bacteria, namely streptococcus mutans, that feed on the leftover food particles in our mouth. When you eat, plaque forms and if left to its own bidding it will eat away at your teeth. This is how cavities are formed. 


The longer you leave the plaque to eat at your teeth, the more damage it causes. So if you eat food all day and don’t brush before bed, the bacteria get to feast all night while you sleep.


If you only brush at night and not in the morning you won’t have food particles all over your teeth, but that doesn’t mean your teeth are safe. Bacteria regenerate in your mouth as you sleep and brushing in the morning helps to clear it away.


Common Brushing Mistakes


toothbrush in a toothbrush cup on a marble counter


When you brush your teeth, it’s not just brushing them that cleans your teeth. Proper brushing technique is important to ensure you’re keeping your oral hygiene in good condition. Dentists like Dr. Chiarina Iregui say if you’re making these mistakes, you could be making your oral hygiene worse as you brush.

  • You don’t change your toothbrush out

You should be changing your toothbrush out regularly, about every three to four months. After a while, the bristles on the brush get worn out and don’t clean your teeth as well. 

If you notice the bristles looking used and splayed out, it’s time to get another toothbrush.

  • You don’t brush for long enough

Standing and brushing for two to three minutes can get boring, and it may seem like you get all the places in your mouth in less time. But brushing for the proper amount of time ensures every spot in your mouth is clean.

Try spending ten seconds brushing each part of your mouth, including the fronts, backs, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.

  • You brush your teeth too hard

You don’t have to scrub your teeth to get them clean. In fact, brushing your teeth too hard can cause more damage to them. 

If you scrub your teeth, you could be causing your gums to recede and damaging the sensitive dentin layer beneath the enamel on your teeth.

Your teeth only require a light brushing to clear them off. If you have trouble brushing lightly, try holding the brush between only your thumb and index finger as you brush.

  • You brush right after eating

Right after eating may seem like the ideal time to brush to clean out the food particles and give you fresh breath. Unfortunately, you could be causing more harm to your teeth by doing this.

If you need your teeth to feel or smell fresh right after eating a meal, breath mints may be a better option. Rinsing your mouth out with water as you eat can also help to reduce the amount of debris left on your teeth.


Tips for Optimal Oral Hygiene

  • Brush at a 45-degree angle – brushing at this angle helps to make sure the entire surface is clean, as well as the gums. Use short, gentle strokes to brush.
  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush – Using a soft brush may not feel like it cleans your teeth enough, but a hard brush can cause damage. 
  • Floss every day – If you don’t currently brush twice a day, adding flossing into the mix might seem like too much at once. But you can’t reach the areas between your teeth by brushing, which means they’re at risk if you don’t floss.
  • Visit the dentist for regular cleanings62% of adults say they’re too afraid to visit the dentist, even though they know they should. Dental cleanings are vital to maintaining your oral health, though. Dentists like Dr. Matthew Huff can clean off the plaque that has hardened on your teeth and get to the spots that you miss while brushing and flossing.