Dear wise one, After weeks of working from home in my sweatpants, I seem to have developed a bad habit. Truth be told, I've developed MANY bad habits, but I'm choosing to focus on this one. I wake up minutes before work starts, put on the same outfit I wore the last three days and start working. On the commute from the bedroom to the living room turned home office, I frequently forget to brush my teeth. On some days, I don't remember until 3 p.m. How bad is that? Sincerely, Un-brushed

Dear Un-brushed, Thank you for your letter. I found an unexpected comfort in it, knowing that I am staying home and far away from you and your un-brushed teeth. I may talk a lot, but I'm no doctor of the oral cavity. You know who is? Jason Toney, DDS, of North Pointe Dental in Rochester.

He told one of the Answer Man’s cavity-fighting friends that the recommended time to brush is 30 minutes after having breakfast. I’ve never met Dr. Toney, but he seems to understand the reality that many of us live. He said because most people usually don't have much time in the morning, he recommends brushing anytime after breakfast.

“If there is no plan to eat breakfast, then anytime upon waking up would be fine,” he said.

Readers, you may not know this about me, but the Answer Man likes a little mischief every now again. So I needed to dive a little deeper. “Anytime upon waking,” the dentist says. So does that mean it’s OK to wait hours?

Toney said he wouldn’t say it was bad to wait to brush your teeth as long as it still gets done, but said it is probably a better habit to do it first thing, so as to not forget doing it at all. He also noted that since bacteria is present in the mouth, delayed brushing can contribute to bad breath and gingivitis.

Send questions for the Answer Man to