Brushing Your Teeth in the Shower — Gross, or No Big Deal?

mother and daughter in sunglasses smiling with toothbrushes
Author: cmcgovern Posted: November 17th, 2020 Category:

Is it unsanitary or just more efficient? We break down the debate about brushing your teeth while you shower.

While brushing your teeth in the shower isn’t an extremely common practice, one dental health survey has found that around 4 percent of Americans maintain this habit — or between 13 and 15 million people. This number may also be on the rise. Respondents aged 18-44 are twice as likely to brush their teeth in the shower as older survey participants. 

For many, the primary concern about brushing in the shower comes down to hygiene. We scrub down the grime from the day in our showers — should we really be brushing our teeth there? At the same time, proponents of the practice say that it’s more efficient and that it saves time. 

In this article, we’re going to tackle this perennial question to set the record straight. Here’s what you need to know.

Is It Sanitary to Brush in the Shower?

Brushing your teeth in the shower presents one significant challenge: bacteria. Your toothbrush, like loofahs, scrubbers, and washcloths, runs the risk of being exposed to bacteria in your shower. Likewise, if you share your living space with other people, your toothbrush may be exposed to greater varieties of bacteria.   

How your toothbrush is stored plays a large part in keeping it sanitary. For instance, if your toothbrush lives in the shower and isn’t able to dry out after use, then you’re creating an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive — which could lead to unwanted health issues. Ideally, holders should keep your brush upright, and be placed in a well-lit and -ventilated area to allow it to thoroughly dry between uses.

How Multitasking Factors into Shower Brushing

While proponents of brushing in the shower say it helps to save time and water, this might not necessarily be the case. First, multitasking in the shower can take away from how carefully you brush — between keeping shampoo out of your eyes, washing your face, and making sure you didn’t miss a spot with the scrubber, it can be difficult to hit the recommended two-minute mark for brushing. Furthermore, if brushing extends the amount of time you spend in the shower, you might actually end up using more water. According to the EPA, turning off the tap while you brush at the sink can save up to five gallons of water a day.

Some dentists raise concerns that brushing in the shower conditions patients to only brush once a day or to rush through their second brush. Likewise, brushing in the shower also means you’re less likely to floss, which is a critical part of a strong dental hygiene routine. Incorporating a water flosser and mouthwash can certainly help, but neither is a true replacement for flossing. Dentists also point out that, without a mirror to check your work, brushing in the shower is often less accurate and effective. How do you know if you’ve removed that stubborn bit of food debris if you’re not able to see it?

Discover the Comfortable, Patient-centric Approach to Dentistry

While there’s a solid case to be made for sticking to brushing at the sink, what’s most important is that you’re brushing twice a day and flossing. Many dentists are in favor of whatever helps people improve their oral hygiene habits — and if the shower is more comfortable or convenient for you, then be sure to store your toothbrush in a sanitary location and don’t slack on the floss.

At Espire, we work hard to take the anxiety and worry out of going to the dentist. Our offices in the Denver area are comfortable and welcoming, and our dental specialists are ready to help you keep your teeth clean and healthy. Make an appointment today!