For years the dental fraternity has been encouraging people to brush twice a day and floss at least once a day. Yes, we have all heard something along those lines while being on the dentist’s chair or watching a toothpaste commercial. Brushing and flossing is the most effective way of cleaning your teeth and keeping your mouth healthy.

However, did you know that there is a certain time when you should not brush your teeth?

So let’s start from the beginning…

Teeth are covered by a protective layer called enamel which is the hardest structure in the body. It is even harder than bone. Enamel has an enemy though -in the form of acids.

Besides the acids that bacteria in the mouth produce, acids from foods that we consume alter the PH of the mouth and make the enamel softer and susceptible to damage. Any food with a PH less than 7 is considered acidic. Brushing immediately can result in enamel loss and in return cause sensitivity.

After eating or drinking something acidic you should wait at least 30 mins before brushing, so the mouth’s PH can return to normal and the saliva can help reminerilze the teeth.

Make sure you wait before brushing, especially after having foods like:

  • Coffee contains tannic acid which makes teeth rougher and causes staining of the teeth.
  • Vinegar contains acetic acid which has one of the most acidic PH values.
  • Carbonated soft drinks contain phosphoric acid and usually a high sugar content, which wears away enamel and can cause cavities.
  • Sports drinks contain citric acid and are usually marketed to teenagers and cause tooth sensitivity as well.
  • Red wine contains tartaric, malic and citric acids that can wear enamel and red wine can stain the teeth.
  • Sour candies are seriously bad! They contain citric, malic, tartaric and fumaric acid. These acids are retained in the candy which can stick to the teeth long after chewing. Some sour candies are so acidic they are close to the PH of battery acid.
  • Yogurt contains lactic acid and yes yogurt is more acidic than milk!
  • Fruits, especially citrus fruits that contain citric acid, can damage the tooth’s enamel. Drinking orange juice frequently is not a good idea either.
  • Tomatoes contain citric acid and are almost as acidic as vinegar.

What can you do after consuming acidic foods?

  1. Rinse with clear water.
  2. Chew some sugarless gum which stimulates saliva, which in turn balances the PH of the mouth.
  3. Eat some cheese as it helps to neutralize acids in the mouth.
  4. When you do brush use a protective toothpaste that contains fluoride, which strengthens the enamel.