Tooth brushing is essential for good oral health, but it must be timed correctly to avoid actually contributing to dental damage. It may seem that brushing after meals would be optimal to prevent food particles from staying around to feed bacteria. In reality, brushing immediately after eating can damage the teeth directly and pave the way to future decay.
Acidic foods are the biggest culprits behind tooth damage from brushing after meals. Vinegar, citrus fruits, and acidic beverages leave traces of acidity in the mouth, potentially eroding tooth enamel. The combination of acidity and abrasion resulting from brushing right after a meal can significantly increase the damage done to the teeth. In fact, the acids can even be pushed deep into the dentin layer of teeth beneath the enamel, resulting in more extensive and serious erosion than would occur otherwise.
According to researchers, patients should avoid brushing their teeth within 30 minutes of finishing a meal to avoid this issue. This is particularly important after consumption of acidic foods or beverages, including juice and soda. A study found that while brushing 20 minutes after drinking a soft drink caused visible damage, waiting for 30 minutes or one hour did not cause any more wear than what was seen in patients who did not brush at all.
Patients who suspect that damage has already occurred because of brushing after meals should schedule an exam with Dr. Connie Feng at Twin Leaf Dentistry. At a consultation with our experts in restorative dentistry in Holly Springs, patients can learn more about how and when to brush in order to avoid dental damage.