By Mimi Greenwood Knight
My dentist recently told me the craziest thing. I brush my teeth too much. Did you know that was a thing? Brushing your teeth is such a fundamental part of adult life that few of us stop to consider whether we’re doing it right. Of course, like anything, there are different schools of thought. But here are some things to consider in your day-to-day dental routine.
Don’t Brush After Eating
Well, not immediately after eating anyway, and specifically not after eating something acidic. That’s because doing so may affect your tooth enamel. The Mayo Clinic warns if you’ve consumed acidic foods such as oranges, grapefruits, or lemons, brushing too soon can negatively affect your teeth. That’s because these acidic foods tend to weaken the tooth’s enamel, and brushing immediately after can remove it.
The American Dental Association suggests brushing your teeth at least 60 minutes after eating or drinking. (Sorry to say, the same goes for after you vomit.) Waiting an hour allows your saliva to wash away food particles naturally and your mouth time to balance its pH level.
What’s the Right Toothbrush?
The American Dental Association recommends a toothbrush with either multi-level bristles or angled bristles because they seem to remove more plaque than those with conventional “flat-trimmed” bristles. They also recommend a toothbrush with soft bristles because, although medium bristles are effective at biofilm removal, they may come with a risk of gingival (gum) abrasion. ADA.org includes a list of recommended toothbrushes.
Don’t Rinse After You Brush
After you brush your teeth, it’s better to spit out excess toothpaste but not rinse your mouth because it will wash away concentrated fluoride in the remaining toothpaste, diluting and reducing its preventive effects. For the same reason, don’t use mouthwash immediately after brushing. Instead, consider brushing in the morning and at night, then rinsing with a mouthwash containing fluoride in the middle of the day. Afterward, refrain from eating or drinking for 30 minutes.
Electric or Manual Toothbrush?
On their website DentalHealth.org, the non-profit Oral Health Foundation wholeheartedly
recommends electric toothbrushes siting a recent 11-year study which found that “people who use an electric toothbrush have healthier gums, less tooth decay, and also keep their teeth longer, compared with those who use a manual toothbrush.”
Chief Executive Officer of the Oral Health Foundation, Dr. Nigel Carter, OBE, concluded, “Electric toothbrushes, especially those with heads that rotate in both directions or ‘oscillating’ heads, help keep tooth decay and gum disease at bay.”
However, the American Dental Association (ADA) says either manual or powered (electric) toothbrushes can be used effectively, although powered toothbrushes may be preferable for individuals with dexterity problems, such as older adults, those with disabilities, and children. Also, those with dental appliances, such as braces, may find an electric toothbrush easier to use. So, it seems the choice is up to you and your personal preferences.