Brushing your teeth twice per day is a simple but important wellness habit.
We all have heard our parents, teachers, physicians, nurses, and dentists at some point tell us that we should brush your teeth twice a day, but do we really need to do this? Does it really matter if we brush our teeth or not? What if we have dentures or dental implants? What if we don’t care about our bad breath? What if we skip a night… and maybe another night… and maybe another night of tooth brushing? Does it matter? Yes!
Some people say things like, “Who doesn’t already brush their teeth twice per day?” If you already have this habit, excellent! But many people don’t. I frequently talk to individuals with depression who have difficulty brushing their teeth each day because it seems like too much work. I see busy moms and dads who don’t brush their teeth because they are busy with their kids and just use mouthwash instead. Lonely people have told me that they don’t brush their teeth because they don’t kiss anyone anyhow. But it’s not just a task to freshen your breath. It’s about improving your health and reducing illness.
Adopt the Habit: Why You Need to Brush Your Teeth Regularly
Reduce Overall Illnesses by Brushing Your Teeth
If you frequently get sick or have health problems, consider brushing your teeth on a more regular basis. If you clean up your mouth, you can reduce some of your illnesses and improve your wellness.
Your mouth is a primary entry point for pathogens (US Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Bacteria, viruses, parasites, and fungi are on our food, on our utensils and dishes, on our hands and fingernails, in our beverages, on the mouths and bodies of other people we kiss, and generally in the air. These germs can causes small infections in the mouth, such as dental cavities and thrush, and more serious infection, such as gastrointestinal illness and systemic bacterial infections. Some types of bacteria may even be inhaled and contribute to respiratory illness, such as pneumonia (Pace & McCullough, 2010). Inflammation from gums and other oral tissues can also add to overall inflammation in the body, which can increase problems related to heart disease (Oliveira, Watt, & Hamer, 2010).
Our bodies work hard to remove those problematic germs and restore a healthy microbiome balance (which includes beneficial bacteria and other micro-organism), but we can our body in the fight by removing some of those germs from our mouths and reducing the “food” that the germs use to grow and reproduce (Pace & McCullough, 2010).
Bonus: Look Better by Having a Pretty Smile
Many people say that a person’s smile is an important facial feature related to attractiveness. If you strive to look attractive to others, you can get an “attractiveness boost” by taking care of your teeth instead of spending money on make-up, hair products, or expensive clothes to look good. So go brush your teeth at least twice a day and smile more.
Adapt the Habit: How to Brush Your Teeth Effectively
The American Dental Association (2016) has a quick video about how to properly brush your teeth and recommends brushing your teeth twice per day. Too much brushing can be just as damaging to your mouth as too little, so don’t brush excessively. Brushing gently 3 or 4 times per day is probably not excessive. If brushing after every meal makes more sense to you, then go ahead and give it a try.
You can also adapt this habit by choosing when, where, how, and how frequently you brush your teeth. For example, you could brush after breakfast instead of before. You can use an electric toothbrush and brush your teeth while you watch the morning news. Some people like to brush their teeth in the shower (just make sure your shower head is clean and let the water run for awhile to wash out any mold that may have developed in the shower head since the last shower).
Attach the Habit to a Routine:
To make this habit stick, attach it to a routine that you already have. If you already wash your face every night before bed, be sure to brush your teeth immediately before or after washing your face. If you get dressed immediately after breakfast, try eating breakfast then brushing your teeth then getting dressed.
The more you do this habit in a sequence that you repeat each day, the more likely you are to keep the habit.
Wellness Habits Are the Foundation of a Life of Well-Being
American Dental Association. (2016). Brush teeth. Retrieved December 16, 2016, from http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/b/brushing-your-teeth
Oliveira, C. de, Watt, R., & Hamer, M. (2010). Toothbrushing, inflammation, and risk of cardiovascular disease: Results from scottish health survey. BMJ, 340, c2451. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.c2451
Pace, C. C., & McCullough, G. H. (2010). The association between oral microorgansims and aspiration pneumonia in the institutionalized elderly: Review and recommendations. Dysphagia, 25(4), 307–322. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00455-010-9298-9
US Department of Health and Human Services. (2000). Oral health in america: A report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: US Department of Health and Human Services, National Institute of Dental and Craniofascial Research. Retrieved from https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/DataStatistics/SurgeonGeneral/Documents/hck1ocv.@www.surgeon.fullrpt.pdf