Many people think they should brush their teeth right after they eat. At first glance, this seems to make sense. If you brush your teeth after a meal, you should keep your teeth healthy by getting rid of the food in your mouth, right?
Actually, that’s not always the best option. Like most things in life, deciding when the best time is to brush your teeth isn’t so black and white. It really depends on what you’re eating. In fact, if you brush your teeth immediately after eating acidic food, you can cause irreversible damage to your pearly whites. Let’s take a look at the best times for you to brush your teeth so that you can keep them as healthy as possible and avoid damaging them.
When To Brush Your Teeth After Eating
In most cases, it’s best to brush your teeth after eating a meal rather than before. After you eat food, bad bacteria can form that cause acids to eat away at your enamel. These acids attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes after you eat your food. This is especially true when you eat food that is high in carbohydrates and sugars.
When you brush your teeth with toothpaste right after you eat, you get rid of a lot of the bacteria that could otherwise cause cavities. This is why many dentists suggest brushing your teeth after every meal. Make sure to brush with a correct technique, and don’t brush too hard or with a toothbrush with overly strong bristles.
When To Brush Your Teeth Before Eating
There is an exception to the brushing-your-teeth-after-eating rule. When you drink or eat something that is acidic, like orange, grapefruit or lemon, you shouldn’t brush your teeth right afterwards. The acids that these foods contain weaken your tooth enamel directly after they are in contact your teeth. If you brush your teeth while your enamel is in this weakened state, you can damage your teeth by removing enamel. Mayo Clinic recommends waiting at least 30 minutes to brush your teeth after you’ve consumed an acidic food or drink.
Instead of waiting to brush your teeth after you’ve eaten acidic food or drink, you can brush your teeth beforehand. When you brush your teeth before you eat acidic food, you reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth. That means less bacteria will be around before you feed your mouth, and consequently the remaining bacteria as well, with sugars, which cause the bacteria to grow. After you’ve brushed your teeth and eaten your acidic food, you should drink a glass of water to get rid of any remaining acids.
While it’s important to eat acidic fruits, it’s best to avoid unhealthy and unnecessary acids that can ruin your teeth, such as those found in soft drinks. If you stick to a healthy diet filled with food that is good for your teeth and practice proper oral hygiene, your teeth (and your dentist) will thank you.