It seems logical to brush your teeth straight after breakfast to keep your breath fresh but dentists say this could be dangerous by damaging your teeth, as well as taking away the white sparkle.
Brushing in the minutes after any meal is a bad idea — and celebrity Harley Street dentist Dr. Richard Marques explains why: “The precious enamel that coats the teeth is temporarily weakened after eating due to the acids present in food, so by brushing right after you eat, you risk damaging it.”
Foods and beverages that are high in acids wear away the enamel that protects your teeth, a process known as tooth erosion. This changes the appearance of your teeth by making them more prone to staining and invites bacteria that can cause decay. Wearing the enamel down — which is permanent — can also cause sensitivity.
Dr. Marques states, “Enamel is important because it’s one of the body’s barriers protecting teeth. It cannot be restored so it’s vital to look after it.” So when should you brush your teeth, if not after eating? Dr. Marques, the founder of Dr Richard Clinics, said: “It’s an age-old debate, but my professional advice is that it doesn’t matter whether you brush before or after eating – it’s the amount of time you wait between the activities.”
“You should wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth, or at least 10 minutes before you eat, to ensure the active ingredients in the toothpaste have had a chance to do their job and protect the teeth, and so that your enamel is hardened,” Marques said. Instead of brushing your teeth after you eat, you could instead just rinse with water, as this removes residue from the teeth.
A lot of dentists have been made the same warnings on the social media platform TikTok. In a viral TikTok video, dentist Anna Peterson, from Essex, said: “When you eat breakfast your mouth becomes acidic. “So what you’re doing when you brush your teeth after breakfast is brushing the acid into the tooth and this wears away the enamel.” Ola, a dental student at Tufts University in Massachusetts, also told followers: “Bacteria stays on your teeth overnight. Brushing before [breakfast] leads to fresh breath and cavity prevention.”
Cavities — tooth decay — are extremely common and are caused by plaque buildup on the teeth due to poor teeth cleaning. The Mayo Clinic says you’re more at risk of cavities if “you don’t clean your teeth soon after eating and drinking.” But it agrees: “don’t brush right after eating”, especially if you’ve had something acidic like fizzy drinks.
It’s also advised to avoid constant snacking because this creates a constant acidic environment in the mouth. Laura Baker-Fawcus RDN, Practice Manager, Forge House Dental, said: “Eating anything sugary or acidic as part of a meal and not snacking in between meals, can cause the teeth to have to endure more acid attacks. “For example, if you are going to have a pudding or fruit, make it straight after the meal as this will mean one acid attack per meal. This helps the teeth to recover between meals.”
ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: HEATHLINE
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