Brushing Your Teeth At Work

Never have I ever brushed my teeth at work, not even a little bit, but for those of you (weirdos) who do, I present to you The complete guide to brushing your teeth at work, by Ritchie King at Quartz.

I’m that guy who brushes his teeth at work.

Come 2 or 3pm most workdays, I grab a coffee mug filled with a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash. I carry it through our open plan office to the public restroom. I post up at the sink and spend about five or six minutes conducting the trifecta of dental hygiene in its entirety. Floss. Brush. Gargle. While. Everyone. Watches.

If I came out of a bathroom stall at work and had to watch my coworker floss his teeth, he would immediately become That Guy to me and nothing he said or did could ever change it. That said, if your office has private bathrooms and you are super into dental hygiene — or as King advocates, in need of a refreshing afternoon pick-me-up — then by all means, do your thing.

Photo: getdirectlydown

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31 Comments / Post A Comment

I have 2 coworkers who do this and all I ever think is “Damn, I wish I had that kind of self-discipline.”

AitchBee (#3,001)

Brushing, fine. Flossing, GARGLING? UNACCEPTABLE

Meaghano (#529)

@AitchBee ok that is a good line to draw

ATF (#4,229)

@AitchBee YES, THIS. I really don’t care if you brush your teeth at work. But someone here flosses her teeth and does the whole rigamarole and it SKEEVES ME THE HELL OUT. No one needs to floss at work. No one.

hungrybee (#73)

@ATF One of my coworkers once flossed AT MY DESK. Heaven knows I love the guy dearly, but it was a horrifying moment in our friendship.

EvanDeSimone (#2,101)

I tried this once, but I can barely remember to buy fresh toothbrushes for my home let alone a separate one for the office.

sea ermine (#122)

So, I brush my teeth after lunch at work, with a toothbrush and mini toothpaste I keep in a small travel kit in my purse (I also keep tylenol, sewing kit, neosporin, etc. in there). I generally try to do it when there isn’t anyone else in there but there are at least 5 other people in my office who also brush their teeth it’s fine. I never floss or gargle or do anything other than just regular brushing, because that’s gross.

I just quietly and quickly brush my teeth to make sure there isn’t any food in there, and that my breath smells nice, and also because it’s supposed to be good for your teeth.

WhyHelloThere (#1,398)

I have a co-worker who brushes his teeth in the sink in the breakroom. Yuck.

I have a toothbrush in my desk drawer, and I occasionally brush my teeth at work. (I do it in the sink in the bathroom, not in the breakroom, because yuck.) I’m paranoid about coffee breath. I’m not at all the only one of my colleagues who does it, so I figure I’m ok.

shannowhamo (#845)

@WhyHelloThere Gross…no bueno in the breakroom!

I probably wouldn’t notice if someone did it subtly but gargling and flossing seem beyond the pale. I’m also just too self conscious to do it for fear I’d be grossing people out; I had wisdom teeth out and for weeks I had to irrigate my little tooth holes and really, really tried to not have to do that at work (I only broke down a couple times.)

Gahhhhh the flossing and garaging no way, but otherwise, I’d rather a coworker brush their teeth (although not in the breakroom sink please) than have bad breath/leftover spinach, etc.

gyip (#4,192)

I was at first a little taken back to find people brushing in a semi-public washroom, if only because the washroom is kind of gross. But, hey, whatever. I just wish I cared enough to brush after every meal too.

I don’t really care if you floss or gargle as long as you clean up after yourself. I get toothpaste everywhere when I brush, so I don’t know how gargling or flossing is messier.

Also, hello, we’re in a washroom. What are we doing every day right next to each other? I’d rather you floss or gargle than not flush the toilet after you take a poop (WHICH HAPPENS HERE).

cmcm (#267)

I live in England, so no, I am not familiar with this practice.

honey cowl (#1,510)

Yes. Always. I don’t floss or gargle because let’s be real I don’t do those things at home but seriously how could one be expected to go the entire 8 hour workday without brushing your teeth?! Gah I want to do this now my teeth feel gross.

PicNic (#3,760)

there are a ton of people at my work that brush their teeth in the afternoon. Brush, floss, brush again. gargle. stare adoringly at themselves in the mirror. repeat.

I keep toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss in my desk drawer in case I’m going straight to the dentist, or meeting someone after work, or have an afternoon meeting. But, though I’d like to be a regular post-lunch brusher, I just don’t have that kind of dedication. (note: I only floss at work specifically if something is stuck between my teeth)

ceereelyo (#3,552)

there are a couple of people who brush their teeth – but the women’s room closest to my desk is soooo gross. It just smells so dank and musty and bathroom-y (and we’ve had some gross things happen in there – grown women! what the hell! seriously!), so I wouldn’t want to brush in there. There is a nicer bathroom on the other end of the hall which I try to use more often, but can be a challenge to get to if the rooms in between are being occupied by meetings. I am a serial flosser though at my desk – after breakfast and when I get back to my desk after lunch. I’ve had a particularly spicy lunch, and now I’m thinking if maybe I will go the toothbrush route as well (just not in the nasty bathroom).

Bonnie St. Clair (#2,949)

Sometimes there are days when I eat something like tuna salad with onions for lunch and then have an early afternoon meeting, and brushing my teeth feels necessary then, so I keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in my desk for those occasions. I always feel a little weird when I brush my teeth at work, though (even though other coworkers do it sometimes too) – it feels out of place in that kind of setting, like it’s too intimate/hygiene-y of a thing to be doing there.

deepomega (#22)

Can someone explain to me why people do this? Is this something their dentists are suggesting, or is there just an assumption that more flossing is always better?

jquick (#3,730)

@deepomega Strange to answer this, but fresh breath and also good dental hygiene.

Lily Rowan (#70)

Ugh, I hate flossers! Because I have a slightly shy bladder, so probably can’t pee if someone is standing in there doing an extended silent task. I have the same problem with hair and makeup.

TheDilettantista (#1,255)

My pre-husband is in dental hygiene school and man, brush your teeth after you eat, for serious. Just do it. I need to get better about it, but the stories he has told me about the patients he sees…wowzers, take care of your teeth y’all!!!

shannowhamo (#845)

@TheDilettantista Can one not “take care of their teeth” by brushing in the morning and the evening? I’ve never heard anyone recommend mid-day tooth brushing. Also, I know you aren’t supposed to brush right after eating because it damages your enamel.

Wait why is flossing so much worse than brushing?

Meaghano (#529)

@stuffisthings Because it’s more…fastidious? And you are literally pulling a string in the gaps of your teeth to yank out food and plaque. That is gross. Your food particles are probably flying about and sticking onto the mirror. And you look like a damn fool.

Ellie (#62)

How could you not brush your teeth after eating? How can you stand the feeling of dirty teeth all day? I am literally shocked – not just exaggerating, I’m genuinely very taken aback – that there are so many comments from people who don’t ever brush their teeth after work. What about after you drink COFFEE?

Meaghano (#529)

@Ellie Ha. I never feel like my teeth are dirty, really, except in the morning and I guess before bed I want them to be clean but hardly even then, tbh, just do it out of guilt. Sometimes at work or out and about I want gum or a mint but I am never like MUST BRUSH TEETH NOW, though I guess I commend those who do? But cmon, did you really think everyone in the world went into the bathroom and brushed their teeth after every meal? At restaurants? School? Haven’t you noticed…no one doing that?

shannowhamo (#845)

@Ellie Gum. I chew alot of gum.

Ellie (#62)

@Meaghano I do that. I brush my teeth at restaurants and I brushed my teeth at school. I carry my toothbrush with me in my purse everywhere.

shannowhamo (#845)

For all the mid-day brushers…why can’t you chew gum? I’m very paranoid about my breath so I always chew gum after a meal. It’s actually good for your teeth (if its sugar free), increasing saliva which washes away acid from your food. But of course, people hate fake sweeteners for other reasons so maybe that’s why.

TARDIStime (#1,633)

@shannowhamo yeah I think there has been a lot of scaremongering abut aspartame (for good reason). I just use a gum that has xylitol in it, instead.

jquick (#3,730)

I always brush my teeth and gargle (in the stall). Always.

Meaghano (#529)

@jquick in the stall?!

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