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We all know to brush our teeth twice a day, and floss once a day. Many people choose to do this morning and night. However, many people also want to clean their mouths immediately after eating to maintain a clean smile and fresh breath. Unfortunately, brushing right after eating can damage your smile. Here’s what to do instead.

First, the “why:” the acids in the food or drink soften the enamel and make it very sensitive to abrasion. Because of this, brushing right after eating can actually do much more harm than good, opening your enamel to infection and decay.

The best way to clean your smile after eating is to drink a large glass of water, then chew sugarless gum for 20 minutes. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates your mouth to produce more saliva, which is your body’s first natural defense against cavities. Saliva washes food particles away from teeth and neutralizes the acids present, preparing your teeth to be brushed.

Of course, chewing sugary gum also stimulates salivary glands and saliva production. However, the sugars in the gum get washed around the mouth, feeding the bacteria that live there. The bacteria in turn create an acidic byproduct, which erodes your tooth enamel. Thus, chewing sugar-sweetened gum can actually make cavity formation worse! Stick with sugar-free gum for a healthy smile.

For more information, call Parkway Dental in Cary, North Carolina, at 919-380-9622. Dr. Stephen Coker and our team look forward to help make your smile shine!