Brushing twice daily and flossing at least once a day are essential steps for maintaining good oral health. Another common recommendation floating around is to brush after every meal to remove food particles and improve breath, but brushing too soon after eating may actually be harmful to your teeth. Brushing immediately after consuming certain foods can actually damage tooth enamel, which weakens teeth, so it’s important to remember some key points about frequent tooth brushing.
What happens after you eat and drink
When you eat food and drink liquids aside from water, it produces acids in your mouth that start the digestive process that helps break down food as you’re chewing and swallowing. However, as the acid breaks down food, it can also weaken tooth enamel and if you brush immediately, you can wear down the protective enamel even more.
How long you should wait
If you’re going to brush your teeth after a meal, wait at least 30 minutes because it takes approximately 20 minutes for the acid in the mouth to subside. By waiting this long, the risk of damaging tooth enamel decreases.
Consuming foods with higher acidity
Although all foods and beverages except water activate oral acid, certain foods add to the acidity level more than others do. These foods include citrus fruits, tomatoes, wine, coffee, blueberries, olives, beer and eggs and the higher acidity increases the potential of damaging tooth enamel. When you know you’ll be eating foods high in acid, brush before you eat and swish water around in your mouth after to remove the acid without brushing away enamel.
Consequences of worn tooth enamel
By brushing too soon after consuming food or drink, you risk wearing away tooth enamel that’s’ irreplaceable once gone. Teeth with worn enamel are more susceptible to bacteria penetrating the tooth, which increases the risk of weaker teeth and cavities. When weakened teeth fracture below the gum line, they require replacement and this creates new dental health challenges. Waiting to brush until the acid has decreased helps prevent wearing down tooth enamel while improving oral health and freshening breath.
While waiting at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth is advisable, it’s never a good idea to wait to see the dentist if you’re experiencing oral discomfort or loose teeth. Along with practicing good oral hygiene and going to the dentist regularly, it’s important to contact your dental professional with any concerns promptly. Schedule your appointment with Chianese Dental today to protect and improve your unique, healthy smile.