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25 July 2014

Should I brush before or after my breakfast?

It’s recommended to brush your teeth twice daily—once in the morning preferably two minutes before breakfast, and again before going to bed. Brushing your teeth regularly helps prevent a myriad of dental problems like plaque build-up, cavities, tartar, tooth decay, and gum disease. It also effectively removes leftover food stuck in between nooks and crannies of your teeth, bacteria, plus other residue in your mouth.

Make sure to use toothpaste with the right concentration of fluoride—any brand will do as long as it has fluoride in it. Fluoride is the active ingredient in toothpaste responsible for desensitising teeth and preventing the onset of tooth decay. Check the toothpaste packaging to find out the amount of fluoride it contains. For children aged three and below, use only a smear of toothpaste containing not less than 1,000 parts per million (ppm) of fluoride. For children aged 3-6, use a pea-sized amount containing 1,350-1,500 ppm of fluoride. For adults and children aged 7 and up, use toothpaste with at least 1,350 ppm of fluoride. Take note that your dentist may prescribe you with toothpaste containing a higher concentration of fluoride if needed. You can opt to use special toothpaste formulated for babies for your own baby. Do not allow children to eat or lick toothpaste from the tube.

Brush your teeth for at least two minutes and do not rinse immediately to allow for enough time for the fluoride to come into contact with the teeth and do its job effectively.

Brush your teeth in gentle, circular motions making sure to cover every individual tooth. Brush along the sides and at the back of your teeth, and gently along your gum line. Also, do not forget to brush the roof of your teeth and your tongue. Aside from the teeth, bacteria tend to settle on the tongue, so it’s important to clean that as well.

Aside from before bedtime, there isn’t a definite strict schedule to observe when brushing your teeth. What’s important is that you faithfully keep to the routine of cleaning your teeth twice daily. It’s recommended to wait for at least an hour after a meal to brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth immediately after eating may cause damage to your teeth especially if you have consumed fruit, soda, wine, or any other food that contains acid. The explanation for this is that acid softens the tooth enamel, which is the hard white substance that covers the crown of the tooth, acting as a protective layer. Brushing your teeth while the enamel is soft can wear away the tooth enamel, leaving your teeth vulnerable to decay. Waiting for at least an hour before brushing allows for enough time for your mouth to develop saliva to neutralise the acid.

If you do not brush your teeth regularly, accumulated food residue and a film of bacteria would coat your teeth. This is called plaque. Over time, plaque build-up can contribute to many dental problems such as cavities, tooth decay, and gum disease.

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