Do you brush your teeth before or after your morning coffee/tea?
Coffee and tea are acidic beverages which can destabilize the protective enamel coating on your teeth so if you brush right away, you will be taking away small amounts of enamel, thinning that protective coating over time which can make your teeth sensitive and leave them at higher risk for developing cavities.
It’s important that you wait at least 45 minutes after drinking or eating something acidic before you brush your teeth. There are many acidic beverages that can be damaging to your teeth. The most unsuspecting one is bubbly water. In fact, anything that is carbonated has a very low pH, especially if it is flavored.
This doesn’t mean you should give up all of the things that you love but there are ways to decrease the acid attack on teeth and keep your caries risk low. Here’s how:
1. Drink these acidic beverages with a meal. Eating triggers your saliva to flow because it contains enzymes that help break down the food. One purpose of saliva is to neutralize acid in your mouth to restore the pH to neutral. The worst thing you can do is sip on something acidic throughout the day as it lengthens the contact time. If you have a dry mouth it is even more damaging.
2. Don’t brush immediately after drinking/eating anything acidic. Examples include alcohol, any carbonated beverage, lemon water, juice, sour candy, canned iced tea and energy drinks. You should wait at least 45 minutes before brushing and rinse with water immediately after or chew sugar free gum or mints. This will kickstart the flow of saliva.
3. Have your dentist test your saliva to see how much risk you have. The critical oral pH is around 5.5….a lower pH is dangerous to enamel. If your saliva is naturally on the acidic side, it is very important to use products that neutralize and avoid acidic attacks as much as possible. Drinking alkaline water (pH 8.8 or above) can be very helpful.
In our office, we use a saliva testing kit which helps us to determine salivary flow, pH, and buffering capacity so that we can prescribe oral health care products and in-office treatments to lower the risk for cavities and sensitivity.