Updated for 2018: Should You Really Brush Right After You Eat?
One of the most surprising facts about oral hygiene is that most professionals actually recommend that you wait at least thirty minutes before brushing your teeth after a meal. In fact, especially when you’re eating highly acidic foods, brushing right after a meal may actually do more harm than good. Surprised? Read on to find out why!
Your tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body, works around the clock to protect your teeth from damage. However, acids left in your mouth by food can wear away that protective enamel, meaning that the level of protection your teeth have ebbs and flows throughout the day. During meals, your mouth is more acidic and your teeth are actually at their weakest state.
Your body has a natural way of correcting the high acid levels in your mouth and returning to a proper pH level after a meal. The key actor in this process is saliva. Your saliva will gradually and naturally wash away the leftover food particles and give your enamel the balance it needs to regain strength and continue its protective work.
Brushing your teeth right after meals, before your saliva has the chance to do its job, can mean that you are actually attacking your teeth when they are at their weakest point. Even soft-bristled toothbrushes can be highly abrasive when enamel is already weakened by high acid levels.
It is best to let saliva do its job for about thirty minutes after you eat. You can help the process along by rinsing your mouth with fluoridated water or chewing sugarless gum, which will help increase the amount of saliva in your mouth and speed the process along. It is also a good idea to rinse your mouth with water right after eating extremely acidic food to minimize damage.
If you have braces or have just eaten food that left a lot of particles behind, a quick and gentle floss after you eat is still recommended. This will prevent some of the damage and decay that food can cause.
The moral of the story? Wait a half an hour after eating to brush your teeth, and don’t forget to brush a minimum of two times a day. Your enamel (and your teeth) will thank you! For more information, call us at Kids’ Healthy Teeth, your pediatric dentist in Katy, today!