You may think that brushing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking to rid your mouth of left-behind sugars and debris is the best approach to keeping your mouth clean. One of the most surprising facts of caring for your teeth is that you should actually wait at least an hour after eating before brushing.
Here’s why brushing your teeth immediately after eating can do more damage than good.
Don’t Brush After Every Meal
The desire to brush your teeth right after you eat something is a normal instinct. This is especially true when you consume items that may be hard on your teeth like acids from coffee, juice or soda. While you may want to brush immediately, the best course of action is to wait. There are a few better forms of defense than brushing and a few simple measures that you can take to fight the bad stuff on your teeth until brushing is safe.
Foods That Are Tough On Teeth
Many foods and drinks are hard on your teeth. Of course, foods containing high levels of sugar and carbohydrates can foster bacteria that leads to tooth decay. Another major culprit is the acids found in items such as soda and fruit juices. All of these foods can cause damage and wear away your enamel if they stay on your teeth for too long, which is why many people feel brushing immediately after is the answer.
Why Brushing Should Wait
Once you eat certain foods and beverages that are harmful to your teeth, it’s a natural thought to brush away the harmful components. However, it’s actually better to wait 30-60 minutes before you brush and here’s why:
After eating highly acidic foods, your teeth are susceptible to damage. When you brush your teeth in this weakened state, you are damaging your enamel. Harmful acids hang onto your teeth after eating. Toothpaste doesn’t neutralize these acids on contact as many think. Instead, brushing can spread those acids around, transporting them to other areas of your mouth that are more prone to decay. As time goes on, your teeth will “adjust” so to speak, and you will be ready to brush off those harmful sugars and acids.
What To Do Instead of Brushing
There is no need to idly wait around while the acids attack your teeth. There are several things you can do to help neutralize any left-behind sugars and acids.
Rinse with water. The first thing to do after eating or drinking anything is to rinse your mouth with water. This is the best method of washing away anything that is left behind after eating and drinking. Tap water is the best when it comes to rinsing your mouth because of the fluoride that exists in the water.
Stimulate saliva production. Your saliva is a natural bacteria and acid-fighting compound. The most effective way to ensure your teeth are fighting back against acids and sugars is by stimulating your saliva production. This can be accomplished by drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum after a meal.
Don’t Wait Too Long
While we are telling you not to brush your teeth right away, this piece of advice is no excuse to put off brushing altogether. Eventually, giving your teeth a thorough cleaning after eating and drinking sugars, carbohydrates and acids is accomplished by brushing. Developing good oral hygiene habits and sticking to them will ensure your teeth stay strong and healthy.
We realize that this approach can be a bit confusing for some, especially if you are in the habit of brushing your teeth immediately after a meal. Hinsdale Dentistry is here to help answer any questions you may have. Schedule an appointment today!