Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Don’t brush your teeth after coffee

Teeth undergo constant demineralization and remineralization. When the tooth surface dissolves, the ions in your saliva can restore the dissolved minerals (enamel is 96% apatite). Consuming acid damages teeth by skipping the bacteria step altogether. You are exposing teeth to acid directly through consumption.

For those whose vice is not sweets but acidic drinks (coffee, tea, wine, orange juice) use a straw. However, be careful that you do not swish it around in your mouth or sip through the straw onto your teeth. Researchers from Bristol University Dental School have shown that the increased velocity of these liquids hitting your teeth (if you were using a straw as opposed to sipping it) increases dissolution.

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After consuming acidic drinks, rinse your mouth with tap water and wait thirty minutes. Jaeggi and Lussi found that immediately brushing your teeth after acidic drinks may erode your sensitive softened teeth, suggesting that it may be better to wait 30 minutes to an hour for your saliva to restore your enamel.

It is like what Sun Tzu said: Know your enemy. If your enemy is sugary sweets, brush your teeth- no problem. If your enemy is acidic drinks, drink water or chew sugar-free gum to increase saliva flow. Give your teeth a chance to build themselves up.

This advice may sound counter-intuitive but this makes sense once you know the difference in sugar vs. acid’s attack mechanisms. (ama-)Zing!

13 comments:

  1. Great healthy research point you have shared on dental health. Thanks for your great healthy support on dental point.

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    1. Thank you! We didn't always know how tooth decay happened. Now we know it's both preventable and treatable. Amazing.

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  2. What should i do if i have sweets and coffee together? I eat lots of honey with my morning coffee..

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    1. You can add milk to your coffee to offset the acidity! The difference is on the small order of microns but I'm guessing this is your morning ritual- I'd still wait thirty minutes before brushing.

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    2. Actually- you should ask your dentist! I'm curious to know as well. :)

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  3. Am I getting it right? Are we supposed to drink coffee using a straw like drinking coke?

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    1. Yes if you want it to bypass your teeth, but not shoot it through your incisors... I just watched a scene in Orange is the New Black where the warden does this b/c she just got her teeth whitened ;)

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  4. interesting info I'm a third year student, yesterday we had an oral health day and all the ppl ask about soft drinks coffee & tea the major concern was aesthetic sadly I didn't know ur info
    I appreciate it

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    1. :) I know! It seems that a BIG focus is on aesthetics these days.... like scary flippers.

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  5. How long should I wait to drink my coffee after I brush? I get coffee on the way to collegel every morning.

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    1. It's more about the other way around- brushing your teeth after you've exposed your teeth to acid. I like to wait until at least the minty taste is out of my mouth- 20 minutes or so.

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  6. Wow, this was very helpful and informative, thank you! I was looking on the internet all morning for some clarity on this issue and I stumbled across your blog. I'm a Korean-American but I've lived in Korea for a few years and it seems that people brush their teeth much more frequently in the workplace than I've ever seen back home (I kind of picked up the habit because I started feeling like I must be less clean or something, haha). But the thing is that everyone seems to brush immediately after their meals -- I have sensitive teeth and I wasn't sure if I was doing myself any favors by following their example. Thanks again for the information!

    P.S. I'm also an aspiring blogger (though usually only privately) and I just wanted to compliment you on what you've built up here! I don't know how long you've attended school in the states but you write very well and are quite prolific! I know nothing about dental health or the world of dental students, but it sounds quite interesting and your positive energy comes across well in how you express yourself. ^^ Thanks for the inspiration!

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    1. Hi Christine,
      Glad you found the information useful. Thank you for your kind compliments about the blog! I've spent most of my life here (but with lots of traveling across the Pacific Ocean). Keep blogging! It's a great community out here.

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