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Should You Brush at Work?

The biggest lies we tell are to our dentist, right? We're not really brushing after every meal (and flossing, too!). But really, we should be. Inconveniently, that middle meal of the day is sometimes spent at our desks at work, and the only bathroom available is … the communal work bathroom.

The biggest lies we tell are to our dentist, right? We’re not really brushing after every meal (and flossing, too!). But really, we should be. Inconveniently, that middle meal of the day is sometimes spent at our desks at work, and the only bathroom available is … the communal work bathroom.

toothbrushes 

(Photo Credit: Anderson Mancini/Flickr)

Nobody likes hanging out in the work bathroom (except maybe if you’re on Ally McBeal), but that’s where the sinks are, right? Right.

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So, here are some tips for making the best of an awkward situation, and getting your pearly whites their cleanest.

Keep a toothbrush at work. This may seem like a no-brainer, but if you have a toothbrush and toothpaste at work, you’ll use them. In fact, you’re 65 percent more likely to do so! Maybe designate that freebie your hygienist is always pushing on you at the end of a cleaning as your “work kit” and take it straight to your desk.

Make sure everything stays clean. OK, our offices aren’t necessarily a hotbed of cleanliness. One tip is to keep your toothbrush in a travel case in your desk. That way it’s not bumping around your drawer with your extra pens and Post-it notes. Be sure to let it dry out completely before you store it, however. A damp toothbrush in close quarters could lead to a little germ farm.

Change it often! You’ll want to keep that toothbrush a little fresher than the one at home, so try to remember to rotate a new one in regularly.

Wait a half hour after lunch to brush. This may seem counterintuitive, but studies have shown that if you brush too soon after eating or drinking (especially true for sugary or acidic foods like coffee, tomato sauce, or citrus) you could actually do more damage to your teeth’s dentin. So give it a rest after lunch, set a timer for about 1:30 p.m., and then get your brush on.

Keep your mouth healthy. When you’re at work you’re often drinking coffee, snacking a few times, and sitting in dry air. When you take the time to brush during the day, you’re helping your breath, gum health, and your smile be the best they can be. And don’t think we don’t notice! A survey by Oral-B Laboratories and the Academy of General Dentistry showed that about 40 percent of adults in the workplace still notice your smile, first.

Avoid the snacking hour. Low blood sugar can be a real drag, as anyone with the mid-afternoon munchies can tell you. One way to avoid the call of that sugary treat bowl is to go and brush your teeth, instead. Afterwards, you won’t want to spoil that minty clean feeling with some sub-par snack.

Don’t be a sloppy brusher. We all want to be respectful to our co-workers, and leaving things tidy in the work bathroom is a must. Sink etiquette can be a bit hard to remember for some grown adults, but not you, right? After you brush, don’t forget to give the sink a quick rinse and swipe with a paper towel. Nobody likes to see leftover toothpaste or chia seeds in there, any more than seeing evidence you used the toilet.

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