At Southeast Family Dental, our dentists get asked lots of questions about oral hygiene. But a common question we hear a lot from our patients is: Do I need to brush my teeth after every meal? Here’s our reply.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Brushing helps remove food and plaque—a sticky, colorless film that contains cavity-causing bacteria—that forms on your teeth and along the gum line. Plaque produces acids that attack your tooth enamel, making them vulnerable to decay. Also, when plaque isn’t removed, it can harden into tarter, which makes it harder to keep your teeth clean.
Based on the ADA’s recommendations, you don’t need to brush your teeth after every meal. However, you can rinse your mouth with plain water after meals when you don’t brush. Rinsing your mouth with water helps get rid of the acids and sugars on your teeth, stopping the acid attacks that lead to cavities. If you’re not eating anything too sticky, and you don’t have any big food particles stuck in your teeth, you should be okay with just rinsing your mouth with water and not brushing after your meal.
Highly acidic foods and beverages
In fact, brushing your teeth after eating and drinking foods and beverages containing acids (such as citrus fruits, tomato products, carbonated beverages, coffee and alcohol) may damage your teeth’s enamel. Highly acidic foods and beverages can soften tooth enamel, so brushing your teeth following an acidic meal can wear away this protective surface. Therefore, you should wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before you brush to give your teeth’s enamel time to harden again.
In addition to brushing your teeth twice a day, another way you can prevent tooth erosion and decay is to visit Southeast Family Dental every six months for a professional cleaning and dental checkup. Regular dental exams and cleanings can help you have whiter teeth and healthier gums. Contact Southeast Family Dental today to schedule your appointment so you can maintain a beautiful smile.