Should You Brush Your Teeth at Work?

Should You Brush Your Teeth at Work?

We’ve all seen him in the office and wondered what his deal is. Does he have a rare medical condition? Is he some sort of neat freak? Does he have a twisted dental fetish? He’s the guy who brushes his teeth at work, and one thing we rarely wonder about him is if he’s right. Is it possible he (or she) knows something we don’t know? Should we all be lining up to brush our teeth beside him? Well, maybe a mad dash isn’t necessary, but the truth is there are several benefits to this routine.

First, brushing at work can improve the health of your teeth. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day, but the average American brushes only 1.1 times a day. So, if you tend to brush only in the morning or before bed, an extra tooth cleaning at work could help improve your overall dental hygiene. Even if you already brush twice a day, an extra time during the day can be beneficial because it loosens the food deposits on your teeth that can turn into acids or sugars that cause cavities. In this instance, you don’t even necessarily need to use toothpaste; just brushing (or even just rinsing with water) can help get rid of the debris in your mouth.

A second benefit of workplace brushing is better-smelling breath. This is frankly as much for the sake of co-workers as it is for the betterment of your own oral health. If you work closely with customers, fresh breath becomes all the more a necessity — so much so that some companies require workers to brush before meetings with clients.

Another helpful aspect of brushing your teeth at work is that it might actually help you lose weight. Brushing helps prevent snacking because the natural inclination is to avoid eating when your teeth feel clean. Furthermore, the minty flavor of toothpaste clashes with any sweet-flavored food, reducing the temptation to raid the candy bars in the snack machine or the box of leftover donuts in the break room.

A final benefit is that the minty flavor of the toothpaste (and mouthwash, if you want to go all out) and the aerobic action of moving the toothbrush around your mouth provides a jolt of energy that helps combat the inevitable afternoon doldrums, making you less likely to doze off at your desk. And if you’re the type of person who uses food to fight through afternoon sleepiness, this extra energy might again save you from eating some unnecessary calories.

If you’re interested in beginning a workplace dental hygiene routine but are unsure of how to start, here are some tips:

  • Keep an extra toothbrush at work. One survey showed that keeping one in the office increases your likelihood of brushing by 65%.
  • Use a sticky note or computer timer to remind you to brush every day.
  • Store your toothbrush in a travel container to help keep it germ-free.
  • Dry the toothbrush before storing it — again, to minimize germs.

Really, the only drawback to brushing your teeth at work is the social stigma. It’s not something that’s often done in the US, and if you’re OK with the sideways glances, your teeth (and waistline) might thank you in the long run.

(Sources: Mayo Clinic, The Denver Post, Academy of General Dentistry, Forbes, Quartz, A Healthier Michigan)