To Brush or Not to Brush? Dentist Advises on 3 Situations Where You Should Skip Brushing

Maintaining oral hygiene and cleanliness is very important for overall well-being. However, there are some conditions when brushing teeth should be avoided.
Dr. Surina Sehgal, Dentist, through her Instagram Reel, highlighted three specific instances when brushing immediately can be harmful to dental health. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Dr. Surina Sehgal, Dentist, through her Instagram Reel, highlighted three specific instances when brushing immediately can be harmful to dental health. (Representational image: Unsplash)

Introduction

Brushing the teeth is quite a simple yet important part of our daily routine. This not only just freshens our breath and removes foul odor but also plays a vital role in maintaining good oral hygiene and preventing cavities.

Brushing your teeth before bed is particularly considered more important because it removes food particles and bacteria that accumulate in your mouth throughout the day. Leaving these particles overnight can promote microbial growth, leading to bad breath and other oral diseases.

While brushing twice a day is the general recommendation, there are certain conditions when brushing teeth should be avoided to prevent tooth damage.

Dr. Surina Sehgal, Dentist, through her Instagram Reel, highlighted three specific instances when brushing immediately can be harmful to dental health.

1. After vomiting:

Vomiting can be either a voluntary or involuntary action. It involves throwing up the stomach's contents through the mouth.

The urge to brush after vomiting is strong, but your mouth needs time to neutralize the high acidity. It is surprising to note that thorough oral hygiene after vomiting can unknowingly progress to tooth damage.

When brush is rubbed around the teeth in this state, it causes tooth damage which is referred to as " Dental erosion". Eating disorder patients develop dental erosion mainly due to self-induced vomiting.

Alternatively, the mouth can be rinsed with diluted water or an alcohol-free mouthwash to neutralize the acid accumulated in the mouth.

Brushing teeth after an episode of vomiting can cause Dental Erosion. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Brushing teeth after an episode of vomiting can cause Dental Erosion. (Representational image: Unsplash)

2. After Breakfast:

Mornings are usually hectic, and brushing after breakfast might seem a natural daily routine. However, waiting allows your body to balance the pH levels of the mouth.

Breakfast staples are some of the worst foods for your tooth enamel, these also include:

  • Orange juice

  • Citrus fruit

  • Dried fruit

  • Toast

  • Soft Drinks

  • Coffee

  • Pastries

Brushing right after eating breakfast covers the teeth with remnants of the acidic food you ate, which weakens the enamel and damages the tooth structure. Hence, brushing immediately after breakfast is not recommended.

There should be a gap of 30-60 minutes between breakfast and brushing the teeth. It is the best way to ensure that the teeth remain protected and there is no tampering of the acid accumulated over the tooth enamel, especially after eating acidic foods.

The American Dental Association recommends waiting 60 minutes after eating acidic foods.

Brushing teeth right after eating breakfast covers the teeth with remnants of the acidic food you ate, which weakens the enamel and damage the tooth structure. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Brushing teeth right after eating breakfast covers the teeth with remnants of the acidic food you ate, which weakens the enamel and damage the tooth structure. (Representational image: Unsplash)

3. After Sweets:

This includes sugary beverages, drinks, and desserts. This kind of sugary food leaves some unwanted sugar behind. Sugary food sticks to the teeth and cause bacterial growth which creates an acid that needs to be neutralized before toothbrushing.

Bacteria love to eat the leftover sugar. If water intake is done after eating such food, water wipes off all the unwanted food particles from the mouth. Water also dilutes the acids produced by the bacterial growth in the mouth.

By brushing right after eating sweets, you are helping the acids erode away your teeth causing "Dental Erosion". (Representational image: Unsplash)
By brushing right after eating sweets, you are helping the acids erode away your teeth causing "Dental Erosion". (Representational image: Unsplash)

By brushing right after eating sweets, you are helping the acids erode away your teeth causing "Dental Erosion". Wait at least 30 minutes for saliva to act naturally and displace some of the acids. It is better to drink some water after having sweets to avoid this.

A similar case where a Dentist's TikTok video went viral, advising when it's best to avoid brushing your teeth, contrary to the general recommendation. Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri is the clinical director at Smart Dental Aesthetics and director at the London School of Facial Esthetics. She recently created a stir by suggesting avoiding brushing after certain events, like vomiting, sparking a conversation online. She got over 12 million views on this video.

People should not brush their teeth after eating breakfast or sweets. The reason why you should avoid brushing your teeth in these three circumstances is because of the PH levels, or acidity in the mouth. Your teeth are minerals and an acid could quite literally dissolve them.

Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri

When we eat anything, be it breakfast, lunch, snack, or sweet things in particular, the bacteria on your teeth metabolize this and turn it into an acid so that you can brush straight away. It's the exact same concept as vomiting. Obviously, the stomach contents are very acidic. So, if you brush your teeth straight away, you're basically rubbing the acid onto your teeth, which can damage them.

Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri

The doctor said that the acidity in the mouth will neutralize over time, but that period can take 30 to 60 minutes for the salivary buffers to act. Till that time it is recommended to let saliva do its natural mouth-cleansing function. Skipping the brush after throwing up might seem weird, especially when the bad taste after vomiting becomes unbearable.

Skipping the brushing of teeth after throwing up might seem weird, especially when the bad taste after vomiting becomes unbearable. (Representational image: Unsplash)
Skipping the brushing of teeth after throwing up might seem weird, especially when the bad taste after vomiting becomes unbearable. (Representational image: Unsplash)

"Things like drinking water and chewing sugar-free chewing gum will accumulate more saliva and that saliva naturally is going to help in everything, it can neutralize the acid quicker"

Dr. Shaadi Manouchehri

In conclusion, while brushing the teeth is an essential component of maintaining good oral hygiene and overall health, there are certain conditions when it is advised to refrain from brushing to avoid causing further damage.

By keeping in mind these conditions and adjusting the oral care routine accordingly, a healthy smile can be protected.

(Input from various media sources)

(Rehash/Dr. Pragati Priya/MSM)

Dr. Surina Sehgal, Dentist, through her Instagram Reel, highlighted three specific instances when brushing immediately can be harmful to dental health. (Representational image: Unsplash)
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