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Why Do We Brush Twice a Day?

March 16, 2017

You have probably heard your dentist say—on more than one occasion– that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day. However, you may not know why brushing two times daily is important. Here are a few reasons for this popular dental recommendation:

Plaque is continually produced.

When you eat, leftover bits of food mix with the bacteria inside your mouth to form plaque. The filmy, sticky substance coats your tooth enamel and gums. Although the development of plaque is a continual natural occurrence, the substance can cause a great bit of damage to your teeth.

Because plaque adheres to your teeth and gums, it places bacterial acid in direct contact with them. The bacteria within the plaque feast on the food particles in the mixture. As the microbes feed, they digest the food and release acid as a by-product. Since the acid is released adjacent to the tooth enamel, plaque can be highly damaging.

Just as acid is corrosive to most other substances, it also eats away at your enamel. This results in tooth decay. The longer the acid remains in place, the greater your chance of needing a dental appointment to fill a cavity. Twice-daily brushing removes the plaque before it can damage your pearly whites.

Brushing twice daily helps prevent tartar buildup.

Tartar is actually plaque that has calcified on the teeth. The hardening process that converts plaque into tartar takes about a day to complete. However, the conversion only takes place if plaque remains undisturbed. When you brush twice a day, plaque can be removed before it hardens into position.

While plaque is still soft, it can easily be brushed and flossed away. However, once it hardens, it remains in place until it is scraped away at your next dental cleaning. Why does this matter? Tartar not only makes your teeth look less attractive due to its yellow hue, but it also harbors additional plaque and oral bacteria to further compromise your oral health.

Although tartar may look completely solid, it is actually quite porous. It becomes a great hiding place for the substances that wreak havoc on your teeth.

Brushing twice a day helps prevent bad breath.

Bad breath that is not associated with the spicy taco or well-seasoned lasagna you had for dinner is often caused by volatile sulfur compounds (VSCs). Anaerobic bacteria that reside on your tongue release these compounds regularly, giving morning breath its characteristics stale, sulfur-y smell.

When you brush your teeth, your tongue should also get a thorough cleaning. As the oral microbes are removed, your breath becomes fresher. In addition, the sweet aroma of your toothpaste will further enhance your breath, making embarrassing moments during social encounters a little less likely.

Brushing twice daily helps ensure that the microbes that may be contributing to your bad breath are removed before they build up to the point of causing your breath to be offensive. It also removes particles of food that may be stuck between your teeth. As the food remains in place, it can rot or deteriorate in your mouth, further exacerbating halitosis.

Brushing twice a day can keep your teeth whiter.

As you eat and drink, pigments are absorbed into the pores of your tooth enamel and can build up over time. The accumulation of pigments can discolor your teeth, necessitating a teeth-bleaching session. When you brush twice a day, you can help remove some of the pigments that have not been fully absorbed by your teeth.

If you brush with a whitening toothpaste, you can give your teeth an even greater chance of avoiding discoloration. Whitening toothpaste often includes ingredients, such as hydrogen peroxide and baking soda, to keep your teeth looking their best. Peroxide uses oxygenating power to help bleach away stains. Baking soda is alkaline and mildly abrasive, so it helps polish your teeth for a whitening boost.

Gum Health

Brushing twice daily also improves the health of your gums so that you can avoid gum disease. The acid that causes tooth decay irritates sensitive soft tissues in your mouth. The resulting inflammation can lead to gum disease.

If you are in the beginning stages of gum disease, you may only notice a bit of blood in the sink after you brush your teeth. However, periodontal issues can progress to the point of bone and tooth loss.

When you brush your teeth, you dilute the inflammatory acid and help rid your mouth of the bacteria that produce it.

For tips on proper brushing techniques or to learn ways to encourage your kids to brush twice daily, consult with our office.