Most people grow up with the belief that brushing their teeth right after they eat is actually a good thing. It’s something that most people’s parents told them; that brushing right after you eat is a good routine to continue through their lives. We all know how important it is to brush your teeth and floss, but did you know that there are times when you shouldn’t brush your teeth – at least right away?
It’s true, your parents were actually wrong about something. According to the American Dental Association, if you really want to care for your teeth the right way, you should wait at least an hour after you eat to brush your teeth. Furthermore, evidence suggests that when it comes to acidic foods like certain fruits, sodas, etc., you should also wait an hour. In fact, if you are brushing your teeth right away, you could be damaging your teeth and causing them more harm than good.
One of the biggest reasons dentists say that brushing right after you eat is wrong and damaging is because of the enamel on your teeth. Enamel is actually one of the hardest and strongest substances in your body. But, when you eat food such as pop, it can create acids in your mouth that can essentially wear away that strong enamel. So when you eat, the acid levels in your mouth get elevated and it in turn makes your teeth week. Your body actually already has high acidic levels, especially in your mouth, but it has a natural way of returning to its natural state by way of PH levels. Your saliva works in your mouth by naturally washing away food particles and gets your teeth enamel back to its normal levels of strength. Without the saliva in your mouth, a lot more people would have issues with their teeth. In fact, one of the biggest issues with people that have cotton mouth is that their mouth cannot fight off acids as well as other people’s mouths. That makes it imperative when you have issues like this, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor – not only because of the lack of saliva, but also because it might be a sign of an underlying problem.
Brushing right after meals, however, sort of counteracts this process. It can actually create a harmful environment in your mouth and can make it so that the food and drinks you eat can attack your teeth. If your enamel is already in a weakened state, even the softest toothbrush can become incredibly abrasive to the enamel. Hence, it’s actually best to let the saliva in your mouth do its natural job. If you do want to do something after you eat acidic foods, or you want to help the process along, you can rinse your mouth out with water – not mouthwash or you can even try chewing sugarless gum which will help create more saliva in your mouth. If you want to make sure that you don’t introduce more sugar or more acid into the mouth, try sugar-free gum which most dentists recommend. Surprising as it may be, when most people hear that their doctor is suggesting gum to them, they probably do a double take, but this will help the situation out.
Another option to consider is to eat healthy foods that are low in carbs and sugar after you eat something that was acidic. This helps reduce any of the acids that were in the food and drink. Low in carb foods can be things such as:
All fish including:
All Fowl including:
All meat including:
Eggs any style, including:
Even things like cheese can be a good low carb option. In fact, some people say that varying foods like cheese can help fight back the acid in your mouth caused by other foods, so if you love cheese, eat it! There are other foods that can also help “brush” your teeth and help get rid of plaque and debris in your mouth too, but that list is varying from the one included above.
Brushing IS still important though, so make sure that after the waiting period, you brush your teeth with the appropriate type of toothbrush, floss and use mouthwash to freshen your mouth up. Stay away from things like soda whenever possible, and make sure that when you do brush your teeth, you are doing it correctly and for at least 2 minutes. Dentists have varying advice on the motion you should brush your teeth, but most say that a sort of circular motion rather than a sawing back and forth motion is better for two reasons. First off, it helps get the food particles out of your teeth better. Secondly, it helps massage your gums to keep them nice and strong. The circular motion also might be good for people with sensitive gums because you tend to put less pressure on the toothbrush.
If you have been in the routine of brushing your teeth right after you eat, hopefully now you can see just how dangerous this really is. It’s unfortunate that you were in the mindset that this was a healthy thing to do, but now that you know just how wrong it really is, you can begin to slowly make a dramatic change to how and when you brush your teeth. One routine to try and get into is to brush your teeth twice a day – once after you get up to wipe away morning breath from sleeping, and once before you go to bed with flossing included: this way, you will stay away from those danger times right after you eat, unless of course you are an after-brushing-snacker! Not only is this a safe routine for you to start with, but it will keep your teeth healthy and strong and let’s be honest, it will also leave your dentist smiling too.