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Brushing Right After Drinking
Soda May Harm Teeth
Excerpt
By Hannah Cleaver, Reuters Health

If you rush to brush your teeth right after drinking soda, think again. Doing so may actually do more harm than good, and it's better to wait 30 or 60 minutes before brushing, according to new research.

Because carbonated drinks are highly acidic and have the potential to damage a tooth's enamel, dentists at Goettingen University, Germany, conducted a study to determine the best time to brush after drinking such beverages. They found that later -- rather than immediate -- brushing is between three and five times more effective at protecting enamel from the erosive effects of carbonated drinks.

In the study, 11 volunteers wore a sterilized piece of tooth-like material in a removable prosthesis for three weeks. This was removed in the mornings and evenings and soaked for 90 seconds in a liquid similar in acidity to soda.

Afterward, the prosthesis was brushed using an electric toothbrush at different times after the 'drink.' Three weeks later, the researchers measured the thickness of the enamel to see how much damage had been inflicted on the 'tooth.'

Professor Thomas Attin, director of the university's department for tooth protection, preventative dentistry and periodontology, said, "The loss of material was less when the participants waited with cleaning for between 30 and 60 minutes."

Professor Attin presented the research at the annual meeting of the German Association for Tooth Protection, where it was awarded a prize from chewing gum firm Wrigley.

He said tooth enamel appears to suffer less damage when brushing occurs after the tooth has had time to mount its own defense against acidic erosion.

Acidic substances attack tooth enamel, he said, and upper layers of the tooth can even be dissolved in some acidic drinks. However, protective agents in saliva may help repair and rebuild damaged tooth enamel.

Waiting for a while seems to give the teeth a chance to rebuild, the researchers said, while immediate cleaning of such teeth can increase the damage by literally brushing off the affected layers.


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