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How Often Should I Be Brushing My Teeth?

December 23, 2013

A lot of people ask, "How many times a day should I brush my teeth?" A general rule of thumb is to brush your teeth twice a day, but when is the best time to brush your teeth during the day? A lot of people brush their teeth after breakfast and before they go to bed, but could brushing right after a meal be bad for your teeth? You might be surprised to hear that brushing right after eating might actually be harmful to your teeth.

When you eat, certain sugars on foods react with bacteria present in your mouth to produce acids. When you brush you teeth when the pH environment in the mouth is still acidic, it poses a problem. Imagine your teeth as glass. Eating is like pouring acid all over it. Brushing it is like etching on glass – you can scratch your teeth’s enamel.

We have already stated how acid is the worst enemy of the teeth. Acid corrodes the protective covering our teeth, the enamel, making our teeth prone to plaque, caries and cavities. This is why there are people who are more prone to cavities than others. The ideal pH for mouth is seven and when you eat something acidic, the pH in your mouth drops. It takes a while for the mouth to return to its normal pH level. Even sports drinks are very acidic and can be as harmful as soda.

Brush 30 minutes after a meal or before taking meals

The American Dental Association recommends that one wait at least 30 minutes after a meal before brushing one's teeth. This will allow saliva to neutralize the acids in the mouth.

What can I do if I can’t brush my teeth 30 minutes after?

There are several options:

  • Drink water. It cleans your teeth from food particles and washes away disease-causing germs.
  • Rinse and gargle with an antibacterial mouthwash.
  • Chew on sugarless gum. Chewing increases saliva production and saliva neutralizes the mouth’s pH level. Xylitol is recommended.
  • Eat cheese! Dentist Jeffrey M. Cole, former president of the Academy of General Dentistry, a dental advocacy group, told the Wall Street Journal, explains that chewy things encourage salivation and proteins in your saliva will buffer acids; as well, naturally occurring chemicals in cheese "encourage the tooth to remineralize."
  • If you know you're going to eat or drink something acidic, brush your teeth beforehand.

Is there such a thing as “overbrushing” one’s teeth?

While brushing your teeth two to three times a day is ideal, more may not be, says Michael Sesemann, DDS, president of the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery.

“Excessive brushing could expose the root of the tooth to irritation, and that could in turn irritate the gums. Brushing vigorously can also erode tooth enamel. The trick is to brush very gently for two to three minutes.”

Not Just A Cleaning

While overbrushing and brushing immediately after eating can be harmful for your teeth, getting your teeth cleaned professionally by a dentist twice a year isn’t. Dr. Reese values the importance of preventive dental care. His clinic has shaped a 5-year warranty program around keeping regular cleaning appointments. As long as you continue to keep your oral hygiene visits every 6-months you can be eligible for free replacement or repair of Dr. Reese’s dental work within the previous 5 years. And if you’ve already had dental treatment, existing patients can be grandfathered into this program.

Call 317-882-0228 to schedule an appointment and start caring for your teeth today.