When should you not brush your teeth? Dentist goes viral for sharing 3 surprising situations

Maintaining oral hygiene like a dentist also means knowing when not to brush your teeth.

A London dentist has sparked an online debate by raising objections to three situations that many consider a good time to brush your teeth.

The video, posted by Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri, clinical director of Smart Dental and Aesthetics Clinic in the UK, has received more than 12 million views on TikTok, leading many people to suspect that they had been using it wrong all along.

She recommends not brushing your teeth immediately after vomiting and eating breakfast or sweets.

“I always brush my teeth after vomiting,” one TikTok user exclaimed.

“So why are we always taught to brush our teeth after meals?” one person quipped.

“Ah yes, these three times I want to brush my teeth more than any other time,” lamented another.

So, do other dentists agree with Manouchehri's assessment? TODAY.com asked several experts to find out.

acid and brushing

Dr. Tien Jiang, assistant professor of oral health policy and epidemiology at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine, told TODAY.com via email that the debate over not brushing in some cases “is all about acid.

She said many people believe tooth decay is caused by sugar, but that's not the direct cause. It's acid that removes minerals from the outer layer of your teeth (also called enamel), a process called demineralization.

“Acid can come from many places – vomit… carbonated drinks, sucking on lemons, etc.,” Jiang explains.

The bacteria that break down the food you eat also release acid. Therefore, “when we eat, the pH in our mouth naturally drops, and bacteria begin to break down our food.”

Brushing your teeth when there is too much acid in your mouth can harm your teeth.

Dr. Beth Caunitz, a dentist in New York City, New York, told TODAY.com: “People should definitely not brush their teeth when the oral pH is very low because then you don't want to wash acid into the teeth.”

Should I brush my teeth immediately after vomiting?

Many experts TODAY.com interviewed recommended brushing your teeth after vomiting.

“Vomit contains stomach acid, which can soften and dissolve the outer layer of the tooth,” says Dr. Diana Nguyen, director of clinical general dentistry at the University of California, San Francisco School of Dentistry.

“If you brush your teeth after vomiting, you're actually spreading the acid over more of your enamel and potentially stripping away the layer of enamel on your teeth with your toothbrush, which can cause your teeth to appear more yellow over time.”

One simple method she recommends is a simple homemade rinse.

Add a teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water, swish it around in your mouth and spit it out, she says. “This can help buffer the acid and protect your teeth.”

Rinsing your mouth after vomiting can also shorten the time your teeth are exposed to acid. Dr. Carlos Gonzalez Cabezas, professor and associate dean for academic affairs at the University of Michigan School of Dentistry, adds that fluoride mouthwash in particular can help remineralize enamel so you can brush faster.

Should I brush my teeth after breakfast?

“When we eat, the mouth becomes acidic because the bacteria in our mouth also feed on the food we eat and metabolize it into acid, which lowers the pH of the mouth,” Manouchehri told TODAY.com.

“If we brush right away, we're rubbing this acid onto the teeth, which … can damage the teeth,” she said.

Our saliva naturally buffers this acidic state in about 30 to 60 minutes, so she recommends waiting at least that long before brushing.

Jiang agrees: “Waiting 30 (minutes) before brushing your teeth after eating anything (not just breakfast or candy) is a normal instruction.”

“In this case, the enamel softens, so brushing immediately after a meal may actually damage your teeth,” she explains. “In the meantime, you can drink water and rinse your mouth with mouthwash to help remove food particles from your teeth and gums.”

However, Gonzalez-Cabezas said brushing immediately after a meal may have a minimal impact on enamel. The most important thing is to brush your teeth every morning.

Should I brush my teeth immediately after eating sweets?

According to the Mayo Clinic, some experts recommend waiting at least an hour after eating something sweet before brushing to give your mouth time to flush away the acid.

Any food containing sugar will increase the acid content in your mouth, such as soft drinks, sports drinks, sour candies, citrus juices and fruits.

Kaunitz warns that people should also avoid brushing their teeth immediately after drinking carbonated drinks because they are acidic.

Instead of brushing your teeth after eating something sweet, Kaunitz recommends drinking a glass of water, which will wash away any unwanted acids.

However, Gonzalez-Cabezas says brushing your teeth after eating sweets can help remove potentially harmful sugars that can damage enamel faster. Thanks to the presence of toothpaste, fluoride is also provided to the teeth after brushing, thereby promoting remineralization.

For those who have a sweet tooth or snack on sugary foods, Nguyen recommends the following:

This article was originally published on TODAY.com

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