Is brushing your teeth in the shower safe?

In today’s busier-than-ever culture, every minute counts. Even on the drive into work, you might see women tweezing eyebrows while switching lanes, or men trimming beards as they fly through yellow lights. Efficiency clearly rules the day — but have we gone too far?

Lately people have been speaking up about another secret time saver: brushing their teeth in the shower. But when you prioritize multitasking over teeth, you may put more than your oral health at risk.

Losing sight of the goal

For healthy teeth, brushing two minutes, twice a day, is critical. But anyone who’s diligent about this knows two minutes is longer than it sounds. And when you add distractions like loofahs, achieving the perfect water temperature and shampoo burning your eyes, you’re bound to miss the two-minute mark.

Flossing falls to the wayside

After brushing in the shower, you’re likely to deep condition or towel-dry, not floss. Bringing mint-flavored string into your shower seems unlikely, let alone unsanitary. Plus, the awkwardness of flossing in the shower might feel like reason enough never to floss again. But your oral health should never be sacrificed to save a minute or two.

What’s that on your toothbrush?

Covering or storing your toothbrush in containers is not recommended by the American Dental Association, because humid environments breed bacteria. The bathroom is one of the most germ-infested rooms in any house, but leaving a toothbrush in a damp shower makes your brush (and mouth) a target for unwanted microbes. Given enough of the wrong types of bacteria, an extra germy toothbrush could even lead to diarrhea or skin infection.

Even dentists use mirrors to clean teeth

You probably don’t have a mirror in your shower. And without a mirror, it’s difficult to brush or floss effectively. As an adult, brushing can feel second-nature, but thoroughly caring for your teeth means checking in to see if they look as clean as you think. It’s easy to brush your teeth absentmindedly — brushing or flossing only one side of your mouth, or worse, missing that green gunk stuck in your molars — so cut yourself some slack and use a mirror to help.

What about the environment?

Did you know that, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), you can save 8 gallons of water a day just by turning off the tap while you brush your teeth? But that means that when you let shower water cascade over you while brushing, several gallons of water easily go to waste.

Tips for multitasking in the shower

We get it: You’re busy and maybe you even enjoy the possibility of your entire body smelling minty fresh. So, if you must shower while brushing, adopt these practices to save your smile (and the planet):

• Time yourself. Make sure you hit your two minutes of brushing time by setting a timer, playing music (a little less than one song = 2 minutes) or counting in your head (30 seconds per quadrant).

• Grab the floss after your shower. Get clean, then head to the mirror to floss. Flossing removes what your toothbrush can’t, protecting you from cavities, gum disease and bad breath.

• Don’t store your toothbrush in the shower. Keep your toothbrush clean by storing it upright and uncovered to air-dry.

• Limit water flow. Avoid wasting water by upgrading to a low-flow showerhead aerator, which adds air to the water stream to slow down the flow while maintaining high water pressure. Showerhead aerators save up to 3 gallons of water per minute, according to the EPA.

Brushing in the shower isn’t ideal, but managed properly, you can maintain a healthy smile. Just be careful it’s toothpaste you’re squirting on your brush, not cologne-scented body wash. And while we understand your desire to occasionally brush in the shower, don’t start brushing in the bath because, well, that’s just gross.