A Dentist Reveals The Best Times To Brush Your Teeth & It's Actually So Surprising

by Caroline Burke

Do you brush your teeth twice a day? If you do, you're already way ahead of me, since I usually forget about brushing my teeth before bed at least three out of seven days of the week. I'm so bad about remembering to brush my teeth before bed, that I've started to do it as soon as I get home for the day, so that I'm at least meeting that twice-a-day rule, even if I'm brushing my teeth at totally random times (don't even get me started on flossing). But in truth, the best times to brush your teeth might seem like the worst time for you in your daily life — or you might not even know when the right time actually is to brush your teeth throughout the day.

Surprisingly enough, the best time to brush your teeth has less to do with when you're waking up or going to bed, and way more to do with when you're having breakfast and eating dinner. According to Dr. Mitali Hariawala, a dental professional and Quip's dental community manager, the best time to brush your teeth is 30 minutes before breakfast and 30 minutes after dinner.

When you eat food (especially acidic food), Dr. Hariawala tells Elite Daily, your enamel can take a beating, which is why it actually matters whether you brush your teeth before or after meals.

"Brushing your teeth straight after eating is essentially like scrubbing a cleaning detergent on your enamel," Dr. Hariawala says, which is why you should brush your teeth before breakfast, instead of after. "Although your enamel is incredibly strong, the acid from your favorite breakfast staples (coffee, cereal, eggs, OJ, etc.) demineralize your enamel and can wear it down." This can lead to things like tooth decay and discolored teeth, she explains, since the yellow layer directly below your enamel, called dentin, is exposed in this situation. In other words, brushing your teeth before breakfast and after dinner (with a good 30-minute interval between brushing and eating in each scenario, Dr. Hariawala suggests) will ensure that your teeth stay clean without your enamel wearing down in the process.

If you forget to brush your teeth at one end of the day, Dr. Hariawala says it's not the end of the world; just make sure you brush your teeth again as soon as you're able to, she tells Elite Daily.

Having said that, "gum disease takes at least 24 hours to develop," Dr. Hariawala explains, which is why you never want to go a full day without brushing your teeth.

If you tend to forget to brush your teeth at night, the dental expert tells Elite Daily, that's why it's doubly important to brush in the morning. As far as how long you should spend on this daily task, she suggests brushing for two full minutes each time.

Oh, and some bad news on the flossing front (at least for me): It's actually a super important part of your dental routine — and yes, it really should be a regular routine, rather than something you do once a month when you're feeling ~extra healthy~. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), you should be flossing at least once a day, so you can get rid of the plaque that builds up between your teeth.

Dr. Hariawala and the ADA don't really specify when the best time is to floss, but it might make sense to choose your daily floss to go with your evening brush, so you can get all of the in-between plaque out of your mouth before you snooze for eight or so hours.

Another important part of your dental routine, according to Dr. Hariawala, is making sure you're regularly swapping out your toothbrush.

"You want to make sure you’re refreshing your brush head [or buying a new toothbrush] every three months to ensure that the bristles aren’t worn down so that they remain effective," she tells Elite Daily.

Another pro tip: Dr. Hariawala suggests storing your toothbrush in a place with "good air circulation," where it can properly dry sans bacteria build-up. So yeah, leaving your toothbrush in a puddle of water is a serious adulting no-no.

BRB, I think I need to go clean my bathroom real quick.