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Does Brushing Teeth Break a Fast?

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD November 11, 2022

Brushing your teeth is very important for oral health, and it’s something that we need to do even during fasting.

Some people might wonder – does toothpaste break the intermittent fasting window? It is a normal question since any toothpaste contains ingredients.

Many toothpaste brands use artificial sweeteners to enhance the minty flavor. They may have a small amount of calories, but it can still trigger those insulin levels. So, does brushing your teeth really affect intermittent fasting, and are there better toothpastes to use?

In this article, we explain if brushing your pearly whites breaks a fast.

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What Does It Mean to Break a Fast?

Breaking a fast means you eat meals to break the intermittent fasting period. Going above the 10-calorie rule stops the fat-burning mode in your body. You need to eat gentle meals and drink water to prevent indigestion and bloating.

Below, you’ll find examples of foods that break a fast:

  • Bone broth (chicken, beef, or fish)
  • Green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale
  • Dried fruits
  • Chia seeds
  • Fruit smoothies
  • Whole eggs
  • Fermented foods like unsweetened yogurt
  • Healthy fats (avocados and nuts)

Does Brushing Teeth Break Fast?

So, does toothpaste break your fast? Toothpaste contains lots of important ingredients that help keep your teeth healthy. Some of these prevent tooth decay and get rid of that dreaded morning breath, so there’s no way to avoid toothpaste when fasting.

Let’s take a look at the main ingredients:

  • Fluoride: This is the main ingredient that protects your teeth’s outer layers. It stops pigmented food and drinks (like wine and black coffee) from staining those pearly whites.
  • Desensitizers: People who experience tooth sensitivity benefit from this ingredient. Desensitizers soothe your gums and block any pain signals.
  • Humectants: Glycol and glycerol compounds are humectants that prevent toothpaste from drying out. They don’t do much for your mouth, but they can still give the toothpaste its smooth texture.
  • Sweeteners: Now, sweeteners like saccharin and sorbitol are ADA-approved, meaning they won’t damage your molars like real sugars can. Sweeteners might be one of the only ingredients that contain a small amount of calories and can break your fast.
  • Abrasives: A toothpaste needs abrasives to remove biofilm, tartar, and stains. Not having this means each tooth will eventually go yellow.
  • Detergents: Toothpaste detergents create that foamy texture in your mouth which helps distribute the other ingredients around the mouth and gums.
  • Whiteners: Of course, everyone wants to have white fangs, which is why this ingredient comes in handy. Not all toothpastes have whiteners, but you can find one that contains peroxide – a common brightening agent.

Only one of these ingredients could possibly break your fast – sweeteners. They usually have a small amount of calories, which triggers your insulin response. The more insulin in your body, the more likely you won’t be in the fat-burning state while fasting.

Just remember that you only consume calories if you swallow toothpaste. Try to avoid doing this, as it won’t magically give you an amazing breath. The added sugar or artificial sweeteners may have more of an impact on your insulin levels.

You shouldn’t avoid cleaning your teeth while intermittent fasting. Oral health is all about taking care of your mouth and gums, no matter if you’re trying to lose weight. Not doing this results in periodontitis – an infection that can lead to tooth loss and sore gums.

If you need additional guidance for your intermittent fasting, check out the DoFasting app. It contains 100% science-backed information that details 5000+ recipes and at-home workout videos. This is great for people who need educational content and motivation.

The Best Time to Brush Your Teeth

The right and only recommended answer is that you brush twice daily to maintain good oral hygiene.

You should brush your teeth when you first wake up. This can remove bacteria that has built up overnight and causes that bad breath.

The second time to brush your teeth is in the evening after your last meal. Toothpaste helps to eliminate food that might be stuck in your mouth, especially between the teeth.

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Benefits of Brushing Your Teeth Regularly

No, toothpaste does not break your fast, so don’t forget to scrub those pearly whites. Cleaning your teeth, gums, and tongue is very important for strengthening your oral health. Your intermittent fasting journey shouldn’t disrupt this regular routine.

Here are some benefits of brushing regularly:

Prevent plaque and tartar buildup

Not cleaning your gums could lead to bacteria overgrowth, which eats away at tooth enamel. This increases the risk of diseases like gingivitis or severe periodontal (gum) disease. You should always clean your teeth to avoid these serious problems.

Prevent cavities

Cavities form when you don’t clean properly or remove excess food in the mouth. Small holes develop in each tooth, permanently damaging the outer layers. However, using toothpaste every day will prevent cavities from ruining dental health in the long term.

Reduce the risk of gum disease

Common symptoms of gum disease include swollen gums, painful chewing, strong-smelling breath, and bleeding around each tooth. You can easily prevent this by following a clean regime every day after you wake up and before sleep.

Lower your risk of certain oral cancers

People are at a higher risk of oral cancers if they don’t brush their teeth regularly. These conditions include salivary gland cancer, lymphoma, adenoid cystic tumors, melanoma, and basal cell carcinoma. Never skip cleaning your teeth and always use high-quality toothpaste.

How to Choose the Healthiest Toothpaste

There are many brands that don’t put the right ingredients into toothpaste. Some people make their own by mixing baking soda, coconut oil, herbs, and essential oils.

Let’s take a look at three ways you can choose toothpaste:

Ask your dentist

A dentist will most likely have the answer to your questions. They can advise what toothpaste works best and how it may or may not break your fast. Dental professionals also provide suitable treatment for replenishing each tooth.

Look for the ADA seal

The ADA stands for American Dental Association. Certain brands of toothpaste will have a seal that represents ADA approval. This means the product is perfectly safe to use and contains ingredients that won’t damage your oral hygiene in the long term.

Read the ingredients

One important thing to do is read the ingredients. You can discover if that toothpaste suits your intermittent fasting journey and maintains the fat-burning mode.

Put the toothpaste back down if you see the following:

  • Artificial flavorings
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB)
  • Propylene glycol

Some of these common ingredients might cause adverse skin reactions. This is especially true for people who have sensitive gums and need more soothing toothpaste. CAPB can actually produce itching and soreness in the corners of your lips.

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Conclusion

So, you might be thinking – does toothpaste break a fast? Can I brush my teeth?

Cleaning your teeth won’t break your fast. This can only happen if you swallow toothpaste that contains artificial sweeteners. Go to your local dentist for advice and some answers about how you can pick a high-quality toothpaste.

Remember that you can make your own toothpaste using coconut oil, bicarbonate of soda, herbs, and essential oils. Just make sure to talk to a professional before making it, and always drink water to keep your gums hydrated after eating.

Author

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Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD
  • Head of Medical Affairs at Kilo Health
  • Medical Doctor at Vilnius University, Lithuania
  • Partnering with the EU-funded Young50 and EUPAP projects

Kasparas Aleknavicius is a medical doctor that graduated from Vilnius University, working as head of medical affairs at Kilo Health. After nearly 5 years in the industry, Kasparas focuses on digital health and is looking for innovative ways to help people lead healthy lifestyles through digital health and wellness platforms.

You can find Kasparas on LinkedIn and follow his latest research on Medium.

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