Our patients ask great oral hygiene questions. What toothpaste should I use, which electric toothbrush is best, how much should I brush and floss, etc.? However, one question we don’t hear very often is when should I brush? Most of our patients are brushing two to three times daily, which is great and actually what I recommend! But I’ll also bet most of you have heard to brush after each meal.
Research has recently shown that brushing immediately after each meal may not be such a good idea after all. You can take a look at the article that I attached to get this authors perspective and it references the president of the Academy of General Dentistry, Howard R. Gamble.
Many of our meals have an acidic component, whether it’s salad dressing, sauces, fruits, wine, soda, even chocolate. All of which weaken our enamel on a microscopic level and cause a certain amount of erosion. Our saliva has many benefits. It buffers the acid in our mouths and will remineralize damaged enamel. However this takes about 30 minutes after an acid attack. So when you brush your teeth after having a bowl of fruit, a bagel, and orange juice for breakfast, you can actually strip off the enamel or dentin from the teeth due to the acid. A few times of this is not going to completely destroy the enamel or dentin, but years of doing it could do quite a bit of damage leading to more cavities and temperature sensitivity. Therefore, you can either brush about 30 minutes after you eat or brush before you eat. Brushing before eating lowers the amount of bacteria in the mouth and the toothpaste will neutralize the acidity in your mouth before you introduce more acid during your meal. If you can’t do either of those things, as seen above, Dr. Gamble suggests rinsing with water mixed with a small amount of baking soda after your meal. So keep those brushes going, just be aware of when you’re using them.