We Asked A Doc: Should You Brush And Floss After Every Meal?

October 23, 2016 by Lisa Fogarty
shefinds | beauty

Everything you thought you knew about brushing and flossing your teeth is probably all wrong.

Since childhood, it’s been drilled into our heads that we must brush and floss at least twice daily to avoid cavities and other dental problems. Since so many of us are eating several meals–including sweet desserts, cocktails, and candy–on the go, our one burning question is whether it’s actually necessary to brush after every single meal. Well, hold onto your hat because it turns out most of us are even more vigilant than we need to be when it comes to our teeth.

“If done properly, brushing once a day and flossing once a day is more than enough,” says Dr. Agustin Drubi, founder of Drubi Orthodontics in Hialeah, Fla. “I personally brush once in the morning, once at night, and floss at night. It’s important to not eat or drink anything other than water after flossing and brushing at night so that bacteria don’t stay on your teeth all night. Technically speaking, not brushing or flossing for a few days should not cause any problems as long as you remove everything when you do. But since most people are not good at flossing with the proper technique, dentists recommend it more often to increase the chances of cleaning the most areas. There is also bad breath, which is why most people brush (but most don’t brush the tongue all the way to the back, which is what causes most bad breath).”

As for our question about whether it’s recommended that we hit the bathroom at work the second after we polish off our lunch, Drubi says a better approach would be to wait and let your body’s natural defense system take care of your teeth first.

“Brushing right after every meal can actually be bad for your teeth,” Drubi says. “Right after you eat, your mouth is in an acidic state because of foods you just ate, and this weakens enamel. So brushing right after can damage teeth because they’re more sensitive. I usually wait around 1 hour after any meal if I’m going to brush after one. This gives a chance for saliva to clean your mouth and get rids of the acidic environment.”

Of course, regular dental maintenance at home will work best if you visit your dentist for a cleaning every 6-12 months. And checking out a YouTube video on how to properly floss your teeth will always help you up your dental game.

For more beauty tips, check out is coffee, tea, or wine worse for your teeth? and 4 ways to prevent red wine from staining your teeth.

Follow me at @lisacfogarty on Twitter.


Lisa Fogarty is a lifestyle writer and reporter based in New York who covers health, wellness, relationships, sex, beauty, and parenting.

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