Closeup on young woman brushing teeth
Clean Teeth Brushing Teeth.

Should you Brush Your Teeth After Every Meal?

Most people are taught to brush with a toothbrush twice a day, once in the morning and again before bed. Even the American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth two times per day with a fluoride toothpaste and toothbrush for a full two minutes each time. While brushing in the morning and at night is the standard, it may actually be beneficial to clean your teeth between meals.

Brushing Before or After Breakfast

Brushing before breakfast has become a habit for many children and adults. There are even benefits to brushing shortly after waking. When you sleep, plaque-causing bacteria in the mouth are constantly multiplying. This is what causes “morning breath.” Brushing your teeth before breakfast helps to get rid of plaque and bacteria. Toothpaste will coat your enamel with a protective barrier against acids in your food.

The downside to brushing before breakfast is that the food and debris remain on your teeth all day until bedtime. Not everyone enjoys this “not-so-clean” feeling and may prefer to brush after breakfast. While it is generally not harmful to brush between breakfast and lunch, you’ll want to take some precautions. Mayo Clinic suggests waiting at least 30 minutes before brushing if you consume anything acidic, such as citrus or coffee.

Cleaning Mouth and Teeth After Lunch

Acids from food and drink can quickly damage teeth, especially when they are high in sugar. Over time, food particles turn into plaque, and eventually tartar. Cleaning your teeth after lunch can help to remove harmful plaque and create a clean feeling in the mouth. However, like with breakfast, you will want to wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush to avoid the effects of toothbrush abrasion. Brushing directly after eating lunch can cause acids to be scrubbed across your teeth, causing a loss of tooth enamel.

Keeping Teeth Clean Without Using a Toothbrush Between Meals

Whether you’re on your lunch break or traveling in the car, you might not have a toothbrush and toothpaste on hand. Fortunately, there are other ways that you can help clean your teeth between meals.

  • Chew on sugar-free gum. Sugar-free gum can help loosen food particles stuck on and between teeth. It also boosts saliva flow which helps to naturally wash away bacteria.
  • Swish with mouthwash. If you have a bottle of mouthwash on hand, swish it around your mouth to help create a fresh feeling.
  • Munch on crunchy vegetables. Fresh celery, broccoli, cucumbers, and carrots can all help to scrape plaque off the teeth while also minimizing odor-causing bacteria.
  • Snack on some cheese. Cheese is high in calcium and phosphates which help restore minerals to the teeth and rebuild tooth enamel. It also boosts saliva flow which helps wash away harmful bacteria and food particles.
  • Avoid excess sugar. If you know that you won’t be able to brush for many hours, minimize your sugar intake. Steer clear of high-sugar foods and beverages such as soda, candy, and desserts.

Speak with a Vero Beach, FL Dentist

For more information about why cleaning your teeth between meals is beneficial, or to schedule your next dental checkup, contact the team at Vero Elite Dentistry.