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What Is the Best Time to Brush Your Teeth?

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This question originally appeared on Quora: What is the best time to brush your teeth?
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Answer by Scott Frey, Board Certified Orthodontist at freysmiles.com, Fellow of World Congress of Minimally Invasive Dentistry & American Academy of Facial Esthetics, Founder Morethansmiles.org

The best time to brush your teeth is in the morning before breakfast. However, it certainly isn't the only time you should brush throughout the day.

There are several reasons for this:
  1. Salivary calcium levels are lowest in the morning. Thus, your teeth are at a much higher risk of acidic damage from bacteria and dietary acids in the morning than at any other time. Brushing kickstarts salivary flow that has been reduced overnight and adds in fluoride to the mix which will help buffer against acids.
  2. Bacteria take seconds to begin to metabolize sugars into acids. Clearing them out before the introduction of food makes far more sense than brushing after they have already soaked up sugars and produced acids especially considering point #1.
  3. Bacteria have been multiplying overnight in an environment characterized by reduced salivary flow.
  4. Acidic foods and drinks will soften your enamel and make you teeth more vulnerable to toothbrush abrasion if brushing immediately after meals. Toothbrush abrasion and erosion are becoming increasingly common so we need to pay greater mind. Scrubbing on your teeth when your enamel has been softened up by something like OJ will lead to toothbrush abrasion and increased sensitivity of your teeth.
The process of enamel demineralization occurs much more rapidly than remineralization, so it is extremely important to take steps to limit the extent of demineralization throughout the day so your teeth can recover.

If the issue is how toothpaste impacts your appreciation for breakfast, use a SLS-free toothpaste because SLS affects your tastebuds and makes things taste odd (you should be using an SLS-free toothpaste for other reasons).

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