When the enamel on a tooth is lost, the interior layers of the tooth are more susceptible to decay and infection. Additionally, because the layer that lies just beneath the enamel, which is called the dentin, contains tubules that encase dental nerves, enamel loss can increase dental sensitivity to heat and cold.
Many people believe that simply brushing their teeth is enough to preserve their tooth enamel. Although brushing, in general, is important, the timing of the brushing should also be considered.
Here are a few instances that indicate the timing of your tooth-brushing sessions does matter to your tooth enamel.
Brushing Before Bedtime
At the end of the day, some people are so tired that they fail to brush and floss. However, brushing before bedtime is essential for the protection of your tooth enamel.
As you rest, your saliva production wanes. Additionally, the reflex that causes you to swallow relaxes. Thus, the contents of your mouth, including the plaque and oral bacteria, remain in place.
Oral bacteria feed on carbohydrates that are left in your mouth after eating and drinking. As they digest the food, the microbes release acidic waste products. The acids from the bacteria dissolve the minerals that make up the tooth enamel, causing holes to form in the tooth material.
When the oral bacteria are not removed, the bacteria grow in number, releasing increasingly larger amounts of acid. As a person sleeps, with less saliva available to dilute the bacterial acids, more harm is incurred by the tooth enamel. Thus, it is important to brush before bedtime, removing plaque and large numbers of harmful microbes.
Stop Brushing Immediately After an Acidic Snack or Drink
Brushing immediately following a meal may seem like a healthy habit. However, the practice could damage your tooth enamel if the consumed food or drink is acidic.
When you eat or drink an acidic substance, the tooth enamel may enter a softened state. Brushing the enamel in this state results in a higher degree of enamel erosion. In effect, the enamel is being brushed from the teeth.
If you have just ingested an acidic substance, it is best to wait 15 minutes or so to allow the enamel to reharden before brushing. As you wait, the saliva is helping to dilute and neutralize the acids in the mouth, making it safer to brush.
To learn more about when you should brush your teeth, schedule a consultation with a dentist in your local area.