As we mentioned, coffee is acidic. This means that brushing your teeth right after drinking it will weaken your enamel, which is the outer layer of the teeth that protects them from physical and chemical damage. By drinking coffee before brushing your teeth, you are essentially brushing more acid onto your teeth, which breaks down the enamel faster and makes your teeth more vulnerable to damage and cavities. “You don’t want to be brushing when your environment is acidic, it’s chemically abrasive,” explained Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist at New York City’s Dental House.
According to Krasilnikov and other dental experts, the best course of action is to thoroughly brush your teeth first thing in the morning, then have a cup of coffee, and finally, rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acidity in your mouth.
If you did end up having your coffee before brushing your teeth, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage and restore the fresh feeling in your mouth. Firstly, dentists recommend waiting for at least half an hour between drinking coffee and brushing your teeth. This allows the pH level in your mouth to become less acidic and be restored to its normal, neutral state. After 30 minutes of waiting, brushing your teeth will be perfectly safe.
You can also use sugar-free gum to speed up the process. Chewing stimulates the production of saliva, the agent that helps restore the pH level in your mouth. According to Christina Meiners, a dentist at the nonprofit CommuniCare Health Centers in San Antonio, “Saliva acts as a buffer in that acidic environment.”
In the meantime, you can still rinse your mouth with plain water to wash out the coffee taste and follow with flossing. This should refresh your breath and give you that clean feeling.
Keep in mind that there’s no reason to worry if you mixed up the order and had your coffee first one morning. One slip-up will not cause much damage, just make sure not to turn it into a habit.
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