Many people brush their teeth at least twice a day — once in the morning and once in the evening before bed.
But multiple VERIFY viewers, including Henry, want to know if you should wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth after eating or drinking something acidic, such as tomatoes, orange juice, sports drinks, soda, wine or coffee.
“Does the acid in coffee and wine soften the enamel so that brushing could cause weak spots?” one viewer asked.
Should you wait 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks?
Yes, you should wait about 30 minutes to brush your teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks.
WHAT WE FOUND
Dentists at the Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the Mayo Clinic say people should wait about 30 minutes to brush their teeth after consuming acidic foods or drinks. Acids weaken tooth enamel — the protective outer layer of the tooth — and brushing too soon can remove it, which can increase the risk of tooth decay.
“Foods and beverages that are high in acids wear away the enamel that protects your teeth,” the American Dental Association says on its website. “This changes the appearance of your teeth and opens the door for bacteria that can cause cavities or infection.”
North Boulder Dental Group explains that people’s teeth go through two processes known as demineralization and remineralization every day. Demineralization occurs when bacteria from the foods and drinks we consume throughout the day create acid that attacks the enamel of teeth.
Meanwhile, tooth remineralization happens when vital minerals found in saliva, such as calcium and phosphate, bond to the teeth to fill in the weakened areas of enamel that are broken down over time by acids and plaque. Dentists say waiting about 30 minutes to brush after consuming acidic foods or drinks allows tooth enamel to remineralize and build itself back up.
Ezzard Rolle, an assistant professor of dental medicine at Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine, recommends rinsing with or drinking water instead of immediately brushing because it “starts the remineralization process of the enamel.” Keith Hollander, a comprehensive dentist at Rose & Hollander Dental Associates in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, agrees.
“You want to neutralize those acids as quickly as possible. So even if you're having orange juice for breakfast — a mouthful of water and swishing it back and forth for 10 to 15 seconds is more than enough to really shorten the remineralization time,” Hollander told VERIFY.
Outside of brushing your teeth, the Mayo Clinic recommends following the tips below to help keep your mouth healthy:
- Floss daily.
- Use mouthwash after brushing and flossing.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Eat a healthy diet and limit sugary food and drinks.
- Avoid frequent snacking.
- Replace your toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles are irregular or splayed.
- Schedule regular dental checkups with X-rays and cleanings.