From the time we were very small children, most of us have heard that it’s absolutely necessary to brush our teeth after every single meal… or else. Believe it or not, this question is a huge point of contention among dentists, and there’s plenty of debate surrounding it. Do you really need to brush after every meal? The answer isn’t as simple as we’ve all been led to believe.
What the ADA Has to Say
When it comes to dentistry and oral healthcare, the American Dental Association, or ADA, is by far the most trusted source of information. For years, the dentists representing the ADA made it a point to remind everyone that brushing after every meal was essential for keeping a bright, healthy smile. However, a recent slideshow published on MouthHealthy.org, an oral care website hosted by the ADA, says otherwise. The slideshow demonstrates several brushing habits to break in 2022, and in the 4th slide, they claim that brushing right after eating is a mistake. In fact, they go so far as to recommend waiting a full 60 minutes after eating to break out the toothbrush!
Why Wait So Long?
The ADA changed its stance on brushing immediately after meals due to evidence that overall oral care is improved when saliva has a chance to naturally wash food particles away – especially when the food you consumed is acidic. Saliva’s composition changes based on the food you eat; for example, if you eat something acidic, the saliva’s pH changes to neutralize that acid. However, if you brush away that acidity immediately, there’s nothing left to dilute the basic saliva, which can be just as bad for your teeth as acidic food. The ADA recommends waiting an hour after consuming acidic food to brush so that your saliva has a chance to do its job first; then, you can go in and brush away any leftover food particles.
Why So Many Dentists Still Say Otherwise
If your dentist still recommends brushing your teeth immediately after meals, talk to him or her about the ADA’s newer recommendation. If you have concerns about the advice you are being given, ask questions. Your healthcare providers are service providers; you are paying them to provide you with a service, and they should not hesitate to take the time to answer your questions or address your concerns. No two people are alike, though, so your dentist may actually have a very good reason for giving you advice that goes outside of the ADA’s guidance.
Freshening Up While You Wait the Hour
While it’s almost always best to wait an hour after eating to brush your teeth, there are some cases in which you might want to freshen up or remove food particles that have gotten stuck between your teeth. In cases like this, it’s best to avoid a full-on brush and instead use a handy interdental brush pick. These handy, eco-friendly gadgets fit inside your pocket and can be used to remove food stuck between your teeth virtually anywhere! When you’re finished, just rinse the pick and pop the cap back on so you have it with you again later. It’s by far the best way to keep your mouth feeling clean and fresh – especially after you’ve just eaten – and did we mention they’re made of bamboo so they’re earth-friendly too?
Brushing your teeth after every meal is still an important concept when it comes to taking care of your smile, but according to the American Dental Association, it’s best to wait an hour and let your body’s natural cleansers do their job. In the meantime, if you have an interdental brush pick in your pocket, you can still freshen up after lunch without going against the ADA’s suggestions.