When is the best time to brush your teeth?  All our lives, we’ve heard it’s important to brush and floss out teeth right after eating.  Dentists have been telling this to patients since toothpaste was invented.  But some people in the industry are wondering if this is such a good idea.  Whenever we consume something acidic, or something sweet which gets turned into acid, the outer layer of our tooth enamel is weakened by the acid attack.  So some people recommend waiting 30-60 minutes after eating before scrubbing, and possible abrading the weakened enamel.

So, is it better to brush and floss immediately to remove  food and plaque which may be contributing to tooth decay?  Or, is it better to wait for the mouth to be less acidic and decrease the chance of eroding enamel away?  At this time, there really is no clear answer.  It’s mostly speculation at this time.  There’s not much research to show which is really better for teeth.  Either way, you’re doing more good than harm.  Here’s what I recommend:

-Limit the number of times a day you eat or drink acidic and sugary foods and drinks

-Use soft-bristled toothbrushes with gentle circular cleaning motions rather than back and forth scrubbing

-Remember that flossing and brushing are more for preventing gum disease than for preventing decay, so floss daily and brush at least twice daily, whenever it makes the most sense to  you

-And lastly, don’t worry too much about it

If any new research comes out clearly favoring one over the other, I’ll let you know!

Dr. Steve

Dr. Steven Lee graduated from the UCLA School of Dentistry in 1985. He was a dental examiner on the National Health and Nutrition Exam Survey (NHANES III). And he is the leader of the American River Study Club. Dr. Lee has been practicing general dentistry in Roseville CA for the last 18 years.