Why You Should Never Brush Your Teeth Right After You Vomit

Whether from motion sickness, a stomach bug, food poisoning, a migraine, or more, vomiting can be a symptom of many different health conditions, reports the Cleveland Clinic. Vomiting can be either a voluntary or involuntary action that involves purging one's stomach contents up and out through the mouth. Vomiting can also accompany morning sickness. In fact, anywhere from a quarter to over half of those who are pregnant experience vomiting during pregnancy.

Throwing up can leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth, so it's natural that you might be inclined to reach for your toothbrush immediately after the fact. However, the American Dental Association (ADA) advises against doing so. ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo explains via Mouth Healthy, stating, "When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them. If you brush too soon, you're just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth." Experts at Konikoff Dentistry explain that because stomach acid has a pH level of 1 or 2, it can break down the protective enamel on our teeth, potentially leading to cavities down the line.

Wait at least a half-hour before brushing your teeth

So what should you do instead? Experts at the ADA suggest holding off on brushing your teeth for about 30 minutes after having vomited. But this doesn't mean you have to leave that taste to linger in your mouth. Rather, it's advised to swish and spit using a diluted mouthwash in order to clean out your mouth. Alternatively, you can create a solution of water combined with 1 teaspoon of baking soda to send that acid spiraling down the sink drain.

Experts at Konikoff Dentistry also encourage using a tongue scraper to do away with any remaining stomach acid. You can also pop in a piece of sugar-free gum containing xylitol to boost saliva production, which can help even out acid levels in the mouth. Additionally, for those whose vomiting stems from morning sickness, Healthy Smiles of St. Louis says that coating your teeth with a dab of toothpaste can help prevent tooth damage from stomach acid exposure.

Once that half-hour to an hour has passed, Konikoff Dentistry reminds us to be gentle when brushing our teeth after getting sick. For example, by using a soft-bristled toothbrush, we can further help preserve the health of our enamel.