You’d think picking up an Oral-B and brushing your teeth after drinking a cup of joe would be about the most straightforward way to prevent your pearly whites from turning into tawny tans.
But you’d be wrong.
Yep, there’s actually something “bad” about brushing your teeth to prevent staining! (I know, I’m rolling my eyes too—and I’m the one writing it.)
Like many of the finer things in life—tomato sauce, wine, a lot of the more colorful fruits and berries, milk—coffee is acidic.
When acidic foods and beverages come in contact with teeth, it temporarily softens the enamel on our teeth.
Brushing your teeth while the enamel is temporarily softened can “strip” your teeth, causing them to become more porous and exposed.
Teeth that are more porous are more easily stained.
Important distinction here: It’s the plaque on our teeth that gets stained, not the teeth themselves. Plaque is formed when the things we eat and drink every day team up with oral bacteria to form crap that sticks to our teeth. Food and drink stains on teeth = plaque.
That’s a good thing, because it means we can go to the dentist and get the plaque removed instead of getting our teeth removed.
Believe it or not, it’s the same with using teeth whitening strips immediately after drinking coffee.
The chemicals used in those teeth whitening strips can make our teeth more porous, leading to the opposite result of what we’re trying to achieve.
“So,” you’re probably asking. “What the hell should I do instead?”
Easy—continue to brush (and floss) your teeth after you drink coffee—just make sure that you wait 30 minutes or so to do it.
Same goes for whitening your teeth with whitening strips.
Settle down with the dental equipment there, guy. Relax. You can wait half an hour to brush.
If it helps to remember it, just think of it like the “wait 30 minutes after eating to swim” rule, which is a myth with no scientific basis.
Except this myth is real, and it’s not a myth; it’s a fact.
Brushing, flossing, and whitening all help to prevent coffee stained teeth, but doing some of these preventative things immediately after consuming acidic foods can make the plaque on our teeth more susceptible to staining. And that’s the opposite of what you want.
The solution? Just wait 30 minutes after you drink coffee to brush or whiten your teeth and you’ll be golden. (Well, hopefully not.)