When is the best time to brush your teeth?

Before or after a meal? This question divides toothbrush users into two irreconcilable camps, similar to a scene from the famous Czech film Snowdrop Festival. In it, two parties of hunters argue over whether a boar with cabbage or rosehip is better.

“Before or after a meal” was one of the most frequently asked questions you asked us in connection with the introduction of IONICKISS ionization brushes on the Czech and Slovak markets.

What is dental plaque and how does it arise?

Plaque and then tartar are the two most common problems in oral hygiene.

Bacteria that contain dental plaque produce acids that slowly etch the tooth enamel and, when they work for a  long time, cause tooth decay.

Plaque also damages the attachment of the tooth in the bone – it attacks the periodontium. Periodontium are fibrous fibers that connect the root of the tooth with the bone bed and further connect the neck of the tooth with the gums.

Accumulated plaque that you do not remove can mineralize, stain and turn to tartar.

With MUDr. We talked to Jitka Chocholova about what happens to our teeth during and after the meal.

Some foods and often drinks are acidic in themselves, in addition, carbohydrates are broken down into acids in the mouth. The low pH, i.e. the high acidity of the environment in the mouth, causes the minerals contained in the structure of the enamel to be released into the surrounding environment and the enamel thus demineralizes. It temporarily becomes softer and more vulnerable to mechanical damage, and long-term exposure to bacteria can also cause tartar or decay.

So that’s why we should wait at least 30 minutes to clean our teeth after eating?

Thirty minutes is fine, but it’s not a dogma. After the meal, the pH in our mouth slowly increases again, the environment becomes less acidic and therefore less prone to mechanical damage. The re-increase in pH can be accelerated a bit, for example by drinking clean water or milk after a meal, rinsing the mouth with water or mouthwash before cleaning.

Do I understand that this measure is just a preparation for self-cleaning of the teeth?

Yes, absolutely. Reducing acidity in the mouth is not a substitute for cleansing, as it has no effect on reducing the number of bacteria that have stuck to the teeth during food.

However, this will reduce the process of demineralization of the tooth enamel, and it will not be further mechanically damaged during the actual cleaning.

What else has an effect on the enamel damage besides the already mentioned acidic pH?

Proper tooth cleaning does not damage healthy enamel, but with inappropriate technique, a hard brush and soon after a meal, when its normal structure is not restored, our enamel can really become more and more thin over time.

So brushing your teeth before eating is useless from your point of view?

In my experience, this question mainly concerns the morning brushing of teeth. Probably few people can brush their teeth before lunch or dinner. It’s no problem to brush your teeth before breakfast, as long as people enjoy breakfast. However, from the point of view of dental health, this is unnecessary. It is much more important to remove the dental plaque after a meal. After breakfast, the situation in the mouth is basically the same, whether it was cleaned before it or last after dinner – acidic pH, active bacteria in the tooth coating will damage our enamel until further cleaning.

I assume that the reason for brushing your teeth in the morning before breakfast is the subjective feeling of the individual …

If someone really has a very unpleasant mouthfeel in the morning, I would rather focus on possible changes in evening cleaning and dental hygiene in general. Until we mechanically remove the coating deposited on our teeth, no active substances contained in the mouthwash, paste or released directly from the toothbrush will come into contact with the tooth enamel anyway.

4 principles of proper teeth cleaning after a meal: 

  1. If possible, brush your teeth after each meal
  2. Observe the interval of 30 minutes between the last bite and the actual cleaning of the teeth to protect the tooth enamel.
  3. If you consume fruit or fruit juices, it takes up to 2 hours to return to normal pH.
  4. If you do not have time to wait for the pH in your mouth to equalize, rinse thoroughly with clean water before cleaning your mouth.