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How Long You Should Wait to Brush Your Teeth After Drinking Coffee?

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You’ve probably been in some version of this scenario before: Waking up on a lazy Sunday and enjoying your coffee before getting ready for the day—or gulping down a cup first thing to wake yourself up during the week. On these kinds of mornings, I usually wait until after I’ve finished my coffee before brushing my teeth (for the obvious reason of avoiding coffee breath).

This, however, isn’t a great idea, Vera Tang, DDS, a clinical assistant professor at the NYU College of Dentistry, tells SELF. The reason is because coffee is acidic, and it can take half an hour or so for your salivary proteins to break down that acid in your mouth. If you brush your teeth right after having coffee, you’re pushing the acid into the pores on your teeth (yes, that teeth even have pores was news to me, as well).

Some slightly better news for people who add a lot of milk to their coffee: “It reduces the acidity level, so that helps,” Dr. Tang says. Even so, she recommends swishing some water around in your mouth after getting your morning caffeine jolt, which can help rinse away the acid, and waiting a full 30 minutes before brushing—even for those who drink more milk than coffee. (You don’t need to worry about this if you prefer to brush before you eat or drink anything in the morning, however.)

While we’re on the subject, you shouldn’t necessarily worry about how long it takes you to finish your morning coffee, regardless of what you may have seen recently on social mediaJulie Cho, DMD, a dentist in New York City, tells SELF. Despite claims that prolonged acid exposure from coffee can be harmful, chances are that if you’re drinking coffee like you normally would, you’re probably fine. “Even if you are sipping coffee for hours, you are intermittently swallowing and closing your lips around your teeth, meaning that your natural saliva is constantly cleansing your teeth,” Dr. Cho explains. “You would need to swish [coffee] continuously for a long period of time for [the acid] to be detrimental.”

While the coffee itself may not do any significant damage if you usually nurse a thermos for hours (as long as you’re not brushing immediately after drinking!), this habit can be harmful to people who like sugar with their coffee. “When sipping all day, it’s the sugar content that’s a bigger issue than the acidity,” Dr. Tang says. As SELF previously reported, since sugar can lead to tooth decay (and, thus, cavities) it’s best to consume it all at once—within five to 10 minutes—rather than throughout the course of the day, since consuming sugar slowly and consistently can cause significantly more damage to your teeth than one quick exposure. 

The bottom line? Making a few tweaks to your schedule—by finishing any sugary drinks fast and waiting a bit to brush your teeth after drinking coffee—can go a long way in protecting your smile.

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Source: Self

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