If you’re brushing once at night and once in the morning, it’s not enough. Why? Because we eat throughout the day.
Every time you eat, the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth also have a feast as well — especially on any foods that stick to your teeth. After their meal, these bacteria excrete acid as a byproduct — and this acid is the stuff that causes tooth decay.
This is why brushing throughout the day is essential to good oral health.
And the more meals you have or the more snacking you do, the more essential this is.
But who wants to be a slave to toothpaste or a sink? Brushing while on-the-go becomes incredibly burdensome. (Although, it is a social normal to go to the bathroom to brush your teeth after the lunch meal in some European countries and Brazil.)
You do need to brush throughout the day, but here’s the good news: you don’t need a sink or toothpaste.
The Importance of Dry Brushing During the Day
A dry brush is all you need. Dry brushing even for just a minute breaks up plaque and the stickiness in your mouth from whatever you ate, disorganizing bacteria and making it harder for them to get a foothold in your mouth. Dry brushing in between meals is also extremely effective in banishing bad breath.
But the issue has always been — what do you do with the toothbrush after you’ve used it?
It has bacteria on it.
How do you stash a toothbrush while you’re on the go?
What I Use to Brush On-the-Go
For years, I used to use saran wrap or a ziplock bag. Gross, I know.
My wife, finally fed up with the toothbrushes in plastic baggies and saran wrap stashed in the car, discovered what is now one of my favorite tools: The Snap-on Sanitizer by Dr. Tung’s.
After a dry brush, snapping this little guy onto your toothbrush head takes a second and you can throw the toothbrush back into your bag, purse, or car — not having to worry about your wet toothbrush touching anything.
The Psychology of Being Rewarded by Brushing
In addition to being convenient, I discovered later on that the Snap-on Sanitizer has another big health benefit: rewarding you for brushing.
All behaviors are rooted in what MIT researchers call a habit loop:Let’s say you have a bad habit of not brushing your teeth as often as you should.
The “cue” is present — you feel your teeth are unclean or you have another reminder.
The “routine” is there — you have your toothbrush available and you know how to brush.
But the “reward” isn’t present — if you have a toothbrush stashed in a purse or backpack sitting in a ziplock bag, which hasn’t been rinsed since your last brush since you didn’t have access to a sink — you’re probably dreading brushing with that stinky toothbrush.
After using the snap-on sanitizer, which infuses toothbrush bristles with aromas like tea tree, lemon, and anis — I started noticing that I felt “rewarded” for brushing.
When you take your toothbrush out of a snap-on sanitizer, it smells and tastes delicious.
A reward like this is huge for forming habits.
Some Thoughts on the New Design
I’ve been using this snap-on sanitizer for four years and they’ve just recently rolled out a new design with some improvements in sustainability and usability.
The features of the new design I found notable:
Replaceable Refill: The container with the antibacterial ingredients is now a separate component from the main holding chamber of the toothbrush holder. By separating these two components, the user is able to keep the main chamber for a longer period of time and just replace that part that needs to be replace, which is the active aromatic ingredient.
According to Dr. Tung’s, this saves 45% plastic not thrown into landfill. It’s like using the same pen and only replacing the refill — not buying the whole new pen. Definitely more environmentally friendly. I do hope that they offer just the refills in a separate packet because the new hinge is designed in such a way that it could last quite a while, allowing you to just buy the refill packs and keep the case indefinitely.
New Hinge: Has a plastic spring in it and it forces and keeps the protective cover onto the toothbrush to make it less likely to open in your bag or purse. Slight penalty in size, 90% of that being the new springed hinge mechanism.
Check out the original review I wrote four years ago as well.
Overall, slight improvements to an already fantastic product. I’ll go right to using the new one but it really doesn’t matter which version you use because, and let me stress this again because it’s so important for good oral hygiene: rewarding yourself with brushing is huge.
Every time I pick up my toothbrush, instead of smelling an old smelly toothbrush, I am rewarded by the wonderful and fresh smell of tea tree, lemon oil, or peppermint.
This is the way it should be all the time when you pick up a toothbrush — it should be a wonderful, delightful experience!
Mark Burhenne DDS