How Often Should Guys Brush Their Teeth?
You’ve been told your whole life how to brush your teeth. Despite that, modern science seems to be rewriting conventional wisdom left and right. Things we used to be sure were bad are actually good. The best habits of the past are less promising than we once though. How much of that applies to brushing your teeth? Do modern men need to follow the old rules, or has new knowledge rewritten the book on tooth brushing as well? Fear not, fellas. You’re about to learn everything you need to know about modern techniques for oral hygiene. In just a few minutes, you’ll be properly armed to keep your teeth and mouth healthy, fresh and ready for all of the fun stuff we don’t say in polite conversation.
The Old-School Answer
Here’s something you probably don’t know. Dentistry is the oldest discipline of medicine in the world. Mankind has been working on this stuff for a long time, and we’ve gotten pretty good at it. That’s why the answer you’ve been told all your life is correct. You want to brush your teeth twice a day, every day. We’ll get into the details as we go, but the basics are that brushing any less leaves you vulnerable to bacteria and plaque buildup that can harm your teeth and mouth. Any more can actually undermine the strength of your enamel and harm your gums. There are exceptions to this, but like you just read, all of that will be below.
When You Shouldn’t Brush
For most people, regularly brushing more than twice a day can erode enamel and irritate the gums. These are both bad things. Now, this doesn’t mean you should never brush an extra time. If something particularly nasty happens in your mouth, brush your damn teeth. It’s fine. The point is that more than twice a day should not be routine unless a dentist tells you otherwise.
There’s more to it than just twice a day. Usually, brushing when you wake up in the morning and before you sleep at night is the best routine. You might think it’s just because it’s easy and makes you less likely to forget. You’re wrong. These are actually the safest times to brush your teeth because it’s typically more than an hour after the last time you ate.
Remember how your mom used to tell you not to swim for an hour after eating? She got it wrong. You actually want to avoid a toothbrush for an hour after you eat. There are two reasons for this. First, a lot of common foods are acidic (especially if you have any kind of flavored beverage with your meal). Acid temporarily softens enamel, and if you brush under those conditions, the bristles can actually score your teeth. It’s small scoring, but if you do it all the time, you can eventually cause lasting damage.
The second reason you don’t want to brush away your meals is because most foods have salts and sugars in them. The grains of salts, sugars and other components of your food can act as sandpaper when you get to brushing. If you wait a while, you’ll ultimately swallow all of the problematic grains and you can brush with impunity.
So, the next time you think you need to brush right after a meal, do this instead. Grab a toothpick if anything is stuck in your teeth, and drink a glass of water.
The Right Way to Brush
Since we’ve covered frequency and when not to brush, we should probably also discuss how to brush. According to dentists, every guy does this wrong. Some of you screw up because you’re disgusting filth monsters and don’t actually brush your teeth very often. There’s no helping you.
The rest of you struggle because you don’t actually know tooth brushing technique. It’s not terribly difficult, but it requires consistency. Remember: the point of brushing your teeth is to disrupt the natural film that develops in your mouth. That means breaking up plaque and interrupting the otherwise harmful growth of bacteria on your teeth. When you apply the following lessons to that end, you’ll develop good technique.
Lesson one: you should brush in circles. If you just go up and down or side to side, you’ll create micro grooves in your teeth. That’s not a big deal until you repeat the motion for decades. Eventually, non-circular motions can lead to sizeable grooves that are vulnerable to acids, bacteria and other things that harm your pearly whites. Brush in circles. If you get an electric toothbrush, get one that goes in circles.
Lesson two: you brush too hard. Even if you think you’re gentle, you probably brush too hard. It’s an easy mistake. You think of brushing as scrubbing your teeth to get them clean. While that’s true, it creates a bad mentality. Your toothbrush is expertly engineered to do the work for you. All you need to do is go in circles. The bristles handle the rest.
Lesson three: you give up too soon. Probably the best thing about having an electric toothbrush is that it times the session for you. Remember how we learned that dentistry is the oldest health profession? Every dentist in the world is using that history of knowledge to tell you the same thing. You need to brush for two solid minutes, twice a day. Most people who don’t use a timer quit too soon, and they end up with cavities or worse.
Things You Didn’t Know About Brushing
So, for all of this talk about the history of dentistry, we might be sandbagging you a little. The truth is that regular tooth brushing wasn’t an established means of oral health care until around WWII. The reason for that is probably not what you think. You see, people before the 1940s understood how to care for their teeth. The difference came down to their diet.
It was for the war effort that a lot of modern food processing techniques were developed. That processing is why we have more salt and sugar in most foods. Diets before that point in time were substantially different. Because of that, brushing was actually less important. Instead of brushing, most tooth care was based on picking. Getting food and particles out of the teeth was more important than disrupting plaque.
When war changed that, the army quickly distributed toothbrushes and taught everyone how to use them. It’s pretty wild.
The point of all of this is to emphasize how much your diet impacts your tooth health. This isn’t to say that you can switch to all fresh foods and then abandon your toothbrush. Instead, it’s important to discuss your diet with your dentist. They can help you customize an oral health regimen that will keep your mouth healthy.
Men and Women Care for Their Teeth Differently
When it comes to healthcare, there are some important differences between men and women. We see different specialists, and there are lifestyle changes that are more important to one sex than the other. When it comes to your teeth, none of that matters. Oral hygiene is the same for men and women, yet they don’t take the same approach at all.
When you look at the statistics, men brush their teeth less, have more impact injuries to their mouths and suffer more dental problems in general. In simpler terms, all of you suck at taking care of your mouth, and you need these lessons more than you thought. Despite the difference in care, women are somehow at greater risk of gum disease after the age of 40. Go figure.
Alright, gents. We covered a lot of ground. You’ve learned a whole bunch about how to take care of your mouth and teeth. Let’s wrap this up with a little motivation. If you don’t regularly brush or follow good technique, then talking about gum disease and rotting teeth isn’t going to motivate you. Instead, remember that every attractive woman you ever approach is going to notice your bad breath. You think you can win this war with gum or a mint, but you’re wrong. Bad oral hygiene is pervasive, and it can cut right through your lazy attempts to freshen up.
If that still isn’t enough, remember that she’s going to judge you by your teeth. If you don’t stay on top of brushing, you’re going to have a discolored and, well, nasty mouth. She’ll always notice. Do yourself a favor and fix your habits.