Everyone knows how important brushing teeth is to keep your teeth and gums healthy. The main goal of brushing is to remove plaque and particles of food from the surfaces of your teeth. This prevents bacteria from building up, which is the primary cause of gum disease and tooth decay.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, in the morning and at night before going to bed. But, some people brush more often than is recommended, especially after meals. They believe it’s important to get rid of the food from their teeth quickly.
However, research shows that brushing teeth too soon after meals and drinks, especially those that are acidic, can do more harm than good. This because the acid burns into the enamel of your teeth and the layer below the enamel called dentin. Dentin is the bony tissue that forms your tooth.
“Brushing can accelerate this process. With brushing after meals, you could actually push the acid deeper into the enamel and dentin,” said Dr Howard Gamble, president of the Academy of General Dentistry in an interview with the New York Times.
In one study, a group of volunteers were followed for three weeks and examined the impact of brushing on their teeth after they drank diet soda.
At the end of the study, the scientists found an increase in dentin loss when brushing within 20 minutes after drinking soda. But there was considerably less wear when brushing took place 30 or 60 minutes afterward.
“It is concluded that for protection of dentin surfaces, at least 30 minutes should elapse before tooth brushing after an erosive attack,” the dentist said.
And if you want to be extra careful about acid damage, Dr. Gamble suggested rinsing the mouth with water after a meal. You can also use an acid-neutralizing mixture of one part baking soda to eight parts water to balance out any acidic residue.