Fact or Myth: Can Brushing After Eating Actually Hurt Your Teeth?

Is there ever a bad time to brush your teeth? Believe it or not, the answer from a Westmount dentist is a resounding yes. Brushing immediately after meals can actually do more harm than good and damage your teeth instead of protecting them.

How Does Brushing After Meals Harm Your Teeth?

When you eat or drink, acids are created by the bacteria in your mouth. These acids can wear away tooth enamel. However, the saliva your body produces naturally washes away food particles, bacteria and acids, returning your mouth to its proper pH level after a certain amount of time. When acid attacks the teeth it erodes enamel and dentin, the layer below it. Research shows that brushing too soon after consuming meals and acidic drinks can actually push the acid on your teeth deeper into the enamel, accelerating the erosion process. Even soft-bristled toothbrushes can be highly abrasive when your enamel is already weakened by high acid levels in the mouth.

How Long Should You Wait To Brush?

In one study, researchers examined the impact of brushing immediately after drinking diet soda, which is highly acidic. Subjects who brushed their teeth within 20 minutes after drinking it had increased dentin loss. Those who brushed 30-60 minutes after drinking the soda had considerably less erosion. Instead of brushing right away, rinse your mouth with water and let your saliva do its job for 30-60 minutes after you eat or drink. It’s also important to keep in mind that acid reflux can have the same impact on your teeth. If you suffer from GERD or other conditions that push stomach acid into the mouth, Westmount dentists recommend that you wait 30-60 minutes to brush in this case as well.

Talk to Your Westmount Dentist about Proper Oral Hygiene

Even though it’s best to wait after eating a meal or drinking something acidic, practicing a good oral hygiene routine that include twice-daily brushing and rinsing and daily flossing is vital for optimal oral health. Visiting your Westmount dentist and hygienist for regular checkups and cleanings can also ensure your mouth stays healthy and help you avoid costly and painful dental problems before they start. If you have questions or concerns about how and when to brush, your Westmount dentist can provide hygiene instruction and help you learn how to keep your teeth in tip-top-shape.