Why You Shouldn’t Brush Your Teeth Right after Eating

By on February 27, 2013

Many of us have grown up with the belief that the ideal time to brush your teeth is right after you eat. It seems logical, right? Eating gets stuff all over your teeth, so you brush right after eating to get rid of all the stuff, kind of like washing your car after driving through a bunch of mud. And it might seem like the sooner you can brush your teeth after eating, the better—less time for food gunk to sit around your mouth causing decay.

Well, you may be surprised, but what’s best for your teeth is actually counter-intuitive: brushing your teeth right after eating can actually do a lot more harm than good. Why? Well, when you eat, the bacteria in your mouth produce acids that weaken the enamel of your teeth. If you brush your teeth while they’re in this weakened state, you can actually remove the enamel from the surfaces of your teeth. Regularly doing this over time can cause significant enamel loss.

After eating, it takes time for your teeth to remineralize and get back to their normal, hardened, safe-for-brushing condition. Because of this, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth after eating, or even just brush your teeth before eating. It wouldn’t make much sense to wash a vehicle before taking it out for some off-road fun, but in the case of your teeth, it’s actually a great idea to clean them before you get food all over them.

Sugary and acidic foods contribute the most to weakening the enamel of your teeth, so be particularly mindful of waiting a while before brushing after eating or drinking anything with a lot of sugars or acids, like soda, for example. Soda is your teeth’s biggest enemy. If you really want to make your teeth last, avoid soda altogether, but if you do drink soda, don’t make the mistake of brushing right after, thinking that it will counteract all those sugars and acids. On a related note, it’s actually a very bad idea to brush your teeth right after throwing up. Your teeth are in a very vulnerable state after being exposed to stomach acids, and brushing them at this time can be dentally detrimental. To get the throw up taste out of your mouth, simply rinse thoroughly with water a few times. This will clean your mouth out without doing damage to the enamel of your teeth.

So, if you’ve been in the habit of brushing after every meal, thinking you were taking outstanding care of your teeth, it’s time to reanalyze your brushing habits. A great daily oral hygiene schedule is to brush when you wake up and brush and floss before you go to bed. This covers all your bases: you wipe out morning breath right away, you get in your two brushings and one flossing per day, and you steer clear of the after-eating weak enamel danger zones (unless you snack right before bed). This is a safe and effective routine that will leave your cosmetic dentist smiling.

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