One of the questions I get asked on a regular basis is “Why do I need to brush my teeth twice a day?”. There are several reasons why you should brush your teeth twice a day but the most basic reason (not a dental reason) is that it makes your breath more pleasant for your fellow family members, co-workers, and friends. I can tell you from experience and the stories I hear from patients, the coffee you drink in the morning or the gum you chew on the way to a meeting does not replace good oral hygiene. Very few people will honestly tell you that your breath is a problem but they are talking about it when you are not around.
Our mouths are the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. They are warm, they are wet, and there is a constant food source. Because of these conditions everyone’s mouths are filled with millions of microscopic creatures that continuously reproduce. You never know what type of bacteria you have come in contact with so the cleaner your mouth is the less likely you are to have issues with cavities, uncontrolled periodontal disease, and bad breath (if the cause is dental related). No matter how amazing you are at brushing and flossing (and I know all our patients do it to perfection) it is almost impossible to get every bit of plaque and food debris out of your mouth. Overnight, while you are sleeping, the remaining food debris starts to decompose (think garbage can left in hot sun), the bacteria create waste products (yes, the same type of waste products we produce), and the cells that make up the tissue in your mouth degenerate and decompose. All of these wonderful things sit in your mouth creating wonderful smells and tastes. This is why you have “morning breath” when you wake up.
By brushing our teeth twice a day we are hoping to lower the levels of bacteria breeding in our mouths, remove as much of the food debris as we can from all the surfaces of our teeth, and expose our teeth to fluoride to help make them stronger. If you only brush once a day you are letting the bacteria win. We cannot change the warm, moist environment and even if you choose not to eat the bacteria will feed on the dead cells in your mouth, so brushing and flossing are our best tools to fight tooth decay and periodontal disease. Yes, even with the best oral hygiene the bacteria may still win out and a cavity form but if you don’t fight the fight, they will win the war.