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It is important to brush your teeth twice per day and floss once daily. Usually this is done in the morning and at night. What about after eating? Many people want to clean their mouths immediately after eating to maintain a clean smile and fresh breath.

Unfortunately, brushing directly after eating can damage your smile. The acids present in the food or drink soften the tooth enamel and make it very sensitive to abrasive action, such as brushing teeth. Therefore, brushing right after eating can actually do much more harm than good.

The best way to clean your mouth after eating is to drink a large glass of water, then chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the salivary glands, which then create excess saliva. Saliva is your body’s first natural defense against cavities and tooth erosion. It washes food particles away from teeth and neutralizes the acids present, preparing your teeth for brushing.

Of course, chewing sugary gum or candy also stimulates saliva production. However, the sugars present in the gum or candy get washed around the mouth, feeding the bacteria that live there. The bacteria then create an acidic byproduct which coats your teeth and erodes your tooth enamel. Thus, chewing or sucking on sugar-sweetened gum or candy can actually make cavity formation worse rather than fight it. Stick with sugar-free gum for a healthy smile!

For more information, call Randy Cockrell, DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry in Anaheim Hills, California, at 714-974-0949. Dr. Randy Cockrell and our team look forward to making your smile shine!