Is It OK to Brush Teeth in the Shower?


You may or may not remember a very interesting interview with actress Jennifer Aniston that was published back in 2008, in which the actress claimed to be eco-friendly because she limited her showers to three minutes and during that time also brushed her teeth. That’s right. She brushes her teeth in the shower. For some of us, that admission came as a total shock - not because an actress would want to conserve water, but that someone would actually brush their teeth while they were showering. But for others, this admission was not remotely surprising, as this is common practice for some aren’t any data on just how many people brush while showering, but there are enough of them out there that it has become somewhat of a subject of debate between dentists and patients over the years.

When it comes to brushing your teeth in the shower, there are a few questions we need to ask ourselves when trying to determine if this is a good idea or not. First of all, why are you brushing your teeth in the shower? If you are doing so like Aniston to save water, this is not a good idea. Why? Because if you are in the shower, you are using a lot more water than you would if you brushed at the sink. Unless you're doing other tasks - like shampooing or scrubbing your back - at the same time, you're not really doing much good. And if you are standing directly under the water, you may be getting some of it in your mouth as you brush, causing your toothpaste to dilute or run down your face.

Bottom line: If you want to save water, take your shower as quickly as you can, and brush your teeth before or after with the faucet off while you brush.

Another reason people brush in the shower is to save time, or to multi-task. This is a good idea in theory, but it can have its drawbacks, too. First of all, where are you storing your toothbrush when you’re done? Is it staying in the shower? Do you share the shower with another person? If you have a hook in the shower for your brush, can you be 100 percent sure it's not getting sprayed with soap or oils from someone else when you’re not using it?

Furthermore, how clean is your shower? Do you regularly scrub the tiles for mold, mildew, hard water scale and soap scum? Leaving your brush in a space that is susceptible to any of those contaminants could mean you’re getting them in your toothbrush, too, and by proxy brushing that onto your teeth. Showers can be a hotbed of all kinds of nasty bacteria - not exactly something you want to be putting into your mouth. For this reason, if you truly must brush your teeth in the shower, it is highly recommended that your toothbrush be stored outside of the shower when not in use.

Another question you have to ask yourself about shower brushing is: Where does all that foam go when you’re done brushing? Do you spit out your toothpaste onto the floor of your shower? Do you step out of the shower to spit it into the sink? Many people would argue that the idea of stepping in their own used toothpaste during the shower is not a pleasant one.

Finally, there’s one more reason that brushing in the shower isn’t the best idea. Accuracy. Yes, you’ve probably been brushing your teeth for longer than you’ve been showering, so chances are you know what you’re doing by now. But how can you be sure you’ve gotten all the plaque and debris from your teeth if you’re not brushing in front of a mirror? It makes more sense to brush at your sink, so you can see exactly what you’re doing and make sure you’re not missing any particles that are on your teeth. Furthermore, you still need to floss, which is very difficult to do without a mirror. If you’re going to floss in the mirror, shouldn’t you just brush there too?

Ultimately, it's up to you when and where you brush your teeth, but brushing in the shower is definitely not recommended. The time it may save is negligible, and the water it may save is debatable. If you’re short on time or worried about your water consumption, set your alarm a few minutes earlier in the morning so you don’t have to rush, and make sure you and your family are shutting the faucet off while they are brushing in the sink. These little changes can make as big of, if not a bigger, impact than shower brushing, and they’re a lot better for you, too.

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Are Hi-Tech, ‘Smart’ Toothbrushes Really Worth It?

It seems like every product we use on a daily basis these days has a "smart" version either on the market or in the works. From app-enabled lawn sprinkler systems to doors you can lock from your phone, we are becoming an ever-increasing digital society. Naturally, dentistry is no exception.

You may have already heard of the new smart toothbrushes hitting the consumer marketplace every few months. Recently, the Apple Store launched its exclusive Colgate E1 toothbrush, which works hand in hand with its very own Apple-only app. The Colgate E1 claims to provide "mouth mapping technology," "real-time feedback" and even "brush coaching," among other things. With a $99 price tag, it’s definitely not cheap, but it's also pretty on-par with the average better-quality electric toothbrush. The question is: Is it worth the investment? A quick glance at the customer reviews on the Apple Store website aren’t very clear.

So far, out of 18 reviews, the brush gets a score of 3.5 out of 5 from consumers. Review headlines exclaim "Needs work" and "Nice Idea Poorly Executed." Overall it seems that, so far, consumers aren’t quite in love with the Colgate E1.

Another popular brush that has been around for over a year is the Grush brush for children. First introduced to the world via the ABC invention reality show "Shark Tank," Grush was designed with the goal of helping children clean all their teeth for an appropriate amount of time and with the appropriate amount of pressure. The brush connects to a smartphone app that plays a video game while your child brushes. The better he or she brushes, the higher the score. At the end of the game, parents can check the brushing data and see where their child missed the mark on brushing their teeth.

It also shows children as they brush where they need to apply a bit more pressure and what quadrant of the mouth they should be cleaning at any given time. The Grush brush isn’t quite as costly as the Colgate E1, but at $33 on Amazon, it’s still a lot of money for a kids’ toothbrush. Still, the Grush gets relatively good reviews from parents, earning 3.9 out of 5 stars. The chief complaint among Amazon reviewers is that the movements aren’t accurate. Bottom line, for $33, if you want to give the Grush a try, it can’t hurt. Kids love video games, and most kids love any excuse they can get to play on mom and dad’s smartphone for a few minutes.

As great as that sounds, unfortunately the Grush also has a high potential to backfire. Some parents have reported that their kids are more focused on the game than they are on brushing their teeth, and they’re not really paying attention to what they’re doing with the toothbrush while the game is running. The game is great if it teaches your child how to brush, but if he or she is focused solely on an app and not even looking at their teeth in the mirror while they brush, they’re not really going to learn as much about proper brush technique as they could if they were watching their own mouth.

Ultimately, it’s up to you if you want to invest in a smart toothbrush. Yes, they can be pretty cool, and if you’re a gadget person and have to have the latest high-tech innovation the second it comes out, then these devices will probably be right up your alley. But for the rest of us, it’s probably better to hold off until the smart-brushing technology improves a bit, or just skip the smart brush trend altogether. If we can’t disconnect from our phone for the four minutes a day it takes to brush our teeth, when can we?

There are plenty of affordable electric toothbrushes available today that can get your teeth clean with the correct amount of pressure and for the correct amount of time, all without requiring you to use an app or slay a virtual dragon.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns about your toothbrush or your brushing technique, please feel free to give Dr. Lederman's office a call at 516-882-1764.

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