Reflections on Brushing Twice a Day

Through my three resolutions-of-the-months so far it has been made abundantly clear to me that changing habits--even little ones--is hard work. Not that I didn't know that already, has been a real reminder of that fact. That is important for all of us to remember, I think, lest we get discouraged at our lack of progress. That is not to say it should be used as an out card. But, I must remember to not be too hard on myself when I fall short.  Every step in the right direction is a start.
So, with that said I brushed my teeth before bed 73% of the time in March. Not the 100% I might have been shooting for, but oh well. Since I brushed before bed 0% of the time previously I suppose a 73% increase is something. I am still going to keep trying. Maybe I'll get to 100% one of these months. 

I did manage to achieve my goal to floss once a week though. So, hooray for that.  I am going to stick with my Sunday flossing for another month or two and then maybe bump it up to a couple times a week.  
Brushing before bed isn't hard. I just don't have it built into my life the way I have the morning time brushing. But, I am getting there. Several of the days we missed brushing was among the first things that I thought of the next morning. "Dang. I forgot to brush  my teeth last night." Matt said that was happening to him, too.  Once it even occurred to me in the middle of the night when I got up to go the bathroom--so I brushed my teeth in the near darkness at 1:00am.  I figured I might as well, since I'd though of it and all.

I put a travel size tube of toothpaste on my nightstand, right next to the alarm clock, to act as a reminder for me and that seemed to help. I dislike the aesthetic of it though so I am hoping I can do away with it soon. But, for now I need the reminder.
Speaking of toothpaste, I learned something else that I thought was pretty interesting. As I am sure is evident already I am a frugal person. I like to save money and conserve natural resources by reducing my personal consumption of commercial products. So, I was ever-so-slightly bothered by the idea of using twice as much toothpaste as I had been previously. 

My whole life--until last year--I've used a smear of toothpaste down the length of the bristles on my toothbrush. Turns out, I've been using way more than necessary. Actually, even the pea-sized dose recommended for children under seven years of age is more than adequate for adults, too.
While talking with my dental hygienist she told me that from the dental perspective toothpaste had no real cleaning purpose. She did toe the American Dental Association line by informing me that for the health of my teeth I should still use a toothpaste which contains fluoride. But she went on to tell me that it is the act of brushing--not the toothpaste--that is actually doing the cleaning. Removing fluoride from the equation (since we do not use a toothpaste with fluoride) brushing with just water is as effective at preventing plaque build-up, cavities, and tooth decay as brushing with toothpaste.  Its all about the action of the bristles breaking up the dental plaque and moving it around the mouth so that it cannot harden into tartar which in turn leads to gum disease.  It is worth noting, of course, that brushing with toothpaste--minty in my case--makes my mouth taste better and consequently feel cleaner, too. So I still use toothpaste, but just a tiny little pea-sized dab now. Like a seven year old, apparently.
All photos from The Montana Renaissance Faire, July 2013
I am quite curious to see how this increase in brushing and flossing impacts my next dental visit--which isn't until June. I hope that they can tell a difference and that I feel less tortured by the experience.  I hope, I hope, I hope.


  1. This is a super interesting post!

    I don't brush every night either, and I felt like a total weirdo. Glad I'm not alone lol. However, I have been conscious about my oral care more lately. I'm naturally prone to dental issues, so I really need to pay close attention. I use Colgate daily, but I never could stick with using the electric toothbrush.. I have no idea why :-/ On the off chance I use mouthwash, it's ACT Restoring. I use dental picks instead of floss maybe once/week (waaaay better), and I recently discovered proxybrushes for hard to reach places (those are neat!). This past Sunday, I brushed with a mixture of peroxide & baking soda for a whitening effect. I might do that once/week leading up to my BFF's wedding.

    Overall though, I really need to make it a habit of brushing every morning AND night, and floss/mouthwash more than once/week.

  2. Teeth are so dang important to overall health. It's awesome you're upping your dental game, flossing especially. And if you haven't already heard, brushing hard is bad, m'kay? I used to think I could scrub the yellowness off my teeth only to find out that scrubbing was causing the yellowness by wearing down my tooth enamel.


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