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Brushing Teeth After Throwing Up: Is It Safe?

After throwing up, you should wait at least 30 minutes before brushing teeth because brushing immediately can cause enamel erosion by rubbing acid into it. Therefore, it is unsafe to brush right after but it is safer to wait. We'll give you tips on the best way to handle this precarious situation.


Enamel erosion
Enamel erosion

Table of contents:


Brushing immediately after throwing up causes enamel erosion

It's unsafe to brush immediately after throwing up because it can cause enamel erosion


Enamel erosion yellow dentin showing
Enamel erosion yellow dentin showing

Residual stomach acid in the mouth after vomiting will be coating the surfaces of your teeth. Yes, stomach acid has a pH of 1.5-2.0 which is extremely acidic. For comparison, acid rain which can damage cars only has a 4.0 pH which is less acidic than gastric acids.


Brushing stomach acid into your enamel will accelerate the acid erosion process since it is so acidic and potent. For reference, tooth decay only requires a pH below 5.5 for cavities to start forming. Since stomach acid is more acidic than that, it will dissolve your enamel if you brush right after vomiting.


Enamel Critical pH
Enamel Critical pH

Conclusion: Throwing up leaves residual stomach acid on your teeth which is acidic enough to erode enamel. Brushing the acid into the teeth will damage the enamel and is unsafe.


 

Waiting 30 mins after throwing up to brush is safer

After any acidic challenge in the mouth including throwing up, the general recommendation is to wait at least 30 mins before brushing teeth.


According to Columbia University, you should also wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush your teeth. The reasoning is the same as vomiting in that after a meal, the pH in the mouth drops into the acidic zone. If you brush too soon after a meal, you will be rubbing the acid directly into the enamel which can cause erosion.


Typically after 30 minutes have passed, the mouth will buffer the acid and normal the mouth pH back to neutral. That is how long it takes for your mouth to neutralize the acid. Consequently that is also the time it takes for you to brush safely.


 

Best way to brush after throwing up

The best way to prevent enamel damage from brushing after vomiting is by using: baking soda rinse, waiting the appropriate time, brushing with remineralizing toothpaste, and don't rinse afterwards.


How to prevent enamel erosion with brushing after throwing up:

  1. Baking soda rinse. Rinse with a cup of water and a tsp of baking soda for 1-2 mins. Baking soda has been proven to neutralize acids.

  2. Wait 30 mins.

  3. Brush with remineralization toothpaste. Brush your teeth with a remineralizing toothpaste (fluoride or hydroxyapatite). These toothpaste ingredients can repair enamel and reverse acid damage.

  4. Don't rinse. Spit but do not rinse out for 30-60 mins. This is one of the instances where we recommend to not rinse after brushing your teeth.


Doing the above four steps will minimize the enamel erosion and maximize the enamel repair after throwing up. This is the safest way to brush your teeth after vomiting.


Those are all of the tips on how to safely brush your teeth after throwing up by our dentists in Long Island City. If you have further questions, you should book a consultation with us.

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About the author: Dr David Chen, DDS

Hello, I'm Dr Chen and I'm an actively practicing dentist in Long Island City, NY. I graduated from Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in 2016 but prior to going to dental school I was already working in the dental field. It's been more than a decade since I first got to know dentistry and let me tell you, time flies by quickly. Since then I've developed a fondness for writing, which is how this all got started!

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Medical Disclaimer:

This blog is purely meant for information purposes and should not be used as medical advice. Each situation in your mouth is unique and complex. It is not possible to give advice nor diagnose any oral conditions based on text nor virtual consultations. The best thing to do is to go in person to see your dentist for an examination and consultation so that you can receive the best care possible.

The purpose of all of this oral health information is to encourage you to see your dentist and to inform you of what you may expect during your visit. Due to the unfortunate nature of dentistry, there isn't really any true home remedies that will get rid of dental problems. Roughly 99.99% of them require in-person intervention by a healthcare professional.

Hint: That is the reason why you can't eliminate seeing dentists in your life!

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