Fluoride toothpaste helps remove plaque (a film of bacteria that forms on teeth and gums every day). Fluoride is believed to help avoid tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel. The problem with fluoride is that it has been controversial since it was added to water supplies across the country to help with the health of our teeth.
To avoid excessive fluoride, among other things, many people do not drink tap water. Now we are finding that there is such a thing as brushing your teeth too much. The key is timing, in relation to other food and drinks in your diet.
If you’ve just eaten some grapefruit wedges or sipped a glass of orange juice, stay away from your toothbrush. Citrusy foods and beverages leave acid on your teeth, and “brushing immediately after eating or drinking them rubs the acid further in and can erode enamel,” says Connie White, D.D.S., spokesperson for the Academy of General Dentistry.
When enamel–the protective outer coating on your teeth–wears away, the softer dentin layer underneath is exposed, leaving you vulnerable to tooth sensitivity (the kind that makes drinking hot and cold beverages weirdly painful) and cavities. Plus, “once enamel is gone, it’s gone. It doesn’t grow back,” warns White, who suggests that you delay brushing a full 60 minutes after a citrusy meal or snack. Other acidic foods that can harm your teeth: fruit juice, soda (including diet), sports drinks, and–yes–even wine. Bartender, pass the straws.