Does brushing teeth after eating sugar help?

This blog post will address the topic, “does brushing teeth after eating sugar help?” and cover topics like does eating sugar cause cavities, how to not get cavities even after eating sugar, can you still get cavities if you don’t eat sugar, risks associated with not brushing your teeth after eating sugar, points to consider while brushing your teeth after eating sugar and the correct brushing technique to follow after eating sugar.

Does Brushing Teeth After Eating Sugar Help?

Yes, brushing teeth 30-60 minutes after eating sugar helps wash them away from the teeth surface, preventing the bacterial attack and acid production that may weaken the enamel and cause cavities.

However, brushing just after eating sugar may erode the enamel surface as the sugar produces acid and creates micro-pores on the enamel layer of the tooth.

Does Eating Sugar Cause Cavities?

Yes, eating sugar may cause cavities or increase the risk of developing cavities. In fact, sugar is considered as the main culprit in cavity formation.

If the sugar in the mouth is not cleaned properly, plaque bacteria attacks and eats the sugar, producing acids. 

These acids demineralize the enamel, thereby weakening the tooth and exposing it to cavity formation.

A research study concluded that consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages on a regular basis increases the chances of having dental caries.

Another study reported that all sugars can be fermented by the oral bacteria and are therefore a potential cause of cavities and tooth decay.

How To Not Get Cavities Even After Eating Sugar?

Maintaining good oral and dental hygiene can help you to stop getting cavities even after eating sugar. Good oral hygiene can be obtained through:

  • Tooth brushing twice daily – Brushing twice a day, once in the morning and once at night before going to bed, for two minutes is essential to prevent plaque build up and thereby prevent tooth decay.
  • Use Fluoride Toothpaste – Fluoride can greatly help achieve oral and dental health by strengthening the tooth enamel, making it more resistant to tooth decay. Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your mouth. 
  • Floss daily – According to a study, flossing is highly effective in reducing the interproximal caries risk. Daily floss can help stimulate your gums and reduce plaque leading to lesser inflammation risk.
  • Occasional use of therapeutic mouthwash containing active ingredients – Therapeutic mouthwashes as the name suggests have therapeutic action and control dental conditions like gingivitis, tooth decay and periodontal diseases. 
  • Oil Pulling – A study concluded oil pulling using coconut oil to be an effective procedure in decreasing plaque formation and plaque induced gingivitis. Similarly other studies have also found oil pulling to be an effective and safe procedure to reduce plaque accumulation and thus heal small cavities naturally.
  • Eat Foods Rich In Calcium, Magnesium And Phosphorus – Calcium and magnesium plays an important role in enamel remineralization and saliva production. Calcium rich foods like cauliflower, nuts, salmon and figs, helps in optimal saliva production that acts as a natural cleanser and prevents plaque accumulation and thus cavity formation.
  • Vitamin D rich diet or vitamin D supplements prevent cavities from forming – According to research, children with vitamin D deficiency had an increased risk of developing enamel defects and tooth fracture. Another clinical trial reported vitamin D to be a prominent agent for caries prevention.
  • Avoid frequent snacking – Frequent snacking in between meals increases the risk of getting cavities, as the simple carbohydrates in these snacks provide a perfect breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Avoid brushing teeth just after having acidic and sugary foods or drinks – You must wait for 30 minutes to one hour after consumption of acidic and sugary foods and drinks. The acid in the food or drink otherwise may erode the enamel layer and regular habit may cause exposed dentin leading to pain and sensitivity and increased risk of developing cavities.
  • Use Gentle And Short Strokes When Brushing – Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth and thoroughly clean your mouth without abrading the enamel and preventing cavities from developing.
  • Consult Your Dentist Twice In A Year – It is important to get your oral health checked twice every year with an interval of 6 months between two visits. 
  • Dental Cleaning Once In 6 Months To Prevent Cavities Formation – Dental cleaning can help in removing the plaque and tartar and thus prevent formation of a cavity or decay or gum disease or periodontal disease of any type.
  • Simple rinse with water each time after you have something sweet or sugary – You must also clean your teeth and gums, each time after you have food but not with a toothbrush. Simple rinse with water is considered good for overall oral health and hygiene.
  • Get those pits and grooves sealed to prevent formation of cavities – If you keep getting cavities even if you brush and floss your teeth, there may be several pits and grooves present on the occlusal surface of your teeth. The food and sugar particles get stuck in these pits and grooves, not possible to remove from brushing, resulting in plaque buildup, acid attacks on enamel by plaque bacteria and finally cavities formation.
  • Keep Hydrated – Everytime you sip in some water, you not only quench your thirst but also wash away plaque accumulation on sticky sugary snacks and thereby reducing the risk of cavities significantly.

Can You Still Get Cavities If You Don’t Eat Sugar?

Yes, you can still get cavities even if you don’t eat sugar. The other reasons for you getting cavities are poor oral hygiene, regular brushing after eating acidic foods and drinks and bacterial attack on remnants of food debris stuck in between the teeth and gums.

Apart from sugar, foods rich in starch and carbohydrates also contribute equally to cavities formation. Foods and drinks that are rich in acid weaken the enamel by creating pores in them if consumed on a regular basis.

Brushing after eating and drinking acidic foods and drinks, may lead to cavity formation and tooth decay.

Risks Associated With Not Brushing Your Teeth After Eating Sugar


Sugar and sugary foods and drinks provide a breeding platform for cavity causing bacteria. If you do not brush or rinse after eating sugar, bacteria attacks, acid is produced causing demineralization of enamel and subsequently cavity formation resulting from repeated demineralization.

Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that coats the protective enamel of your teeth. These bacteria produce acids by breaking down the food debris and the acids penetrate the enamel leading to cavities.

Potential tooth loss and other dental infections may occur if plaque is left undistributed. Brushing teeth twice can prevent plaque accumulation significantly and maintain good oral hygiene.


Sugar if not brushed away, results in significant plaque accumulation that can also weaken the gums and lead to gingivitis. 

The bacteria present in plaque causes gum irritation and increases the risk of bleeding and swollen gums.


Plaque causes cavities and gingivitis and if left untreated, gingivitis may even progress to periodontitis

Periodontitis affects the tissues around the teeth and may contribute to tooth loss.

Points To Consider While Brushing Your Teeth After Eating Sugar

  • Brushing twice a day for two minutes each.
  • Use a fluoridated toothpaste that helps enamel repair from demineralization caused by sugar acids.
  • Do not brush immediately after eating sugar as it may increase the demineralization process and increase the risk of cavity formation.
  • Use soft bristles and low force to brush your teeth after eating sugar. Vigorous brushing may produce negative results.
  • Use an electric toothbrush as research studies have proved them to be more useful in cavity prevention.

The Correct Brushing Technique After Eating Sugar

Here is how you can brush your teeth two times a day with correct technique and avoid formation of cavity and dental decay:

  1. Use a small amount of water to lubricate your brush. 
  1. Put a small, pea-size amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush head.
  1. At about a 45-degree angle to your gums , place the toothbrush into your mouth 
  1. Use gentle, short strokes to brush your front teeth.
  1. Brush the outside surfaces as well as the back molars and upper areas of your chewing surfaces.
  1. Brush the inside surfaces of both top and bottom front teeth by flipping your toothbrush upside down.
  1. Brush your tongue to get rid of any bacteria or plaque.
  1. Spit out the remaining toothpaste, saliva, and water into the sink. 
  1. Rinse your mouth with cold water and you are done.


This blog post addressed the topic, “does brushing teeth after eating sugar help”. We understood if eating sugar causes cavities, how to not get cavities even after eating sugar, can you still get cavities if you don’t eat sugar and risks associated with not brushing your teeth after eating sugar. The article outlined points to consider while brushing your teeth after eating sugar and the correct brushing technique to follow after eating sugar.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Does Brushing Teeth After Eating Sugar Help

Should I rinse my mouth after eating sugar?

Yes, you should rinse your mouth with plain water immediately after eating sugar to wash any of the sugar debris or sugar stuck at the posterior teeth corners that can potentially be attacked by cavity- causing bacteria , producing acid that might cause demineralization and increased risk of caries or tooth decay.

You may also rinse immediately with a therapeutic mouthwash containing chlorhexidine solution and fluorides to strengthen enamel by forming a protective layer on its surface.

How long does it take sugar to damage teeth?

It takes almost an hour for sugar to be attacked by bacteria, produce mineral dissolving acid and to weaken and damage your teeth enamel.

After one hour, the acid attack is over and the damage has been done. 

If brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is not done after 1 hour of eating sugar, the enamel will not remineralize and hence weakened enamel will be at increased risk of cavity formation.

Is Brushing 3 times a day beneficial?

Brushing three times a day increases the life of your teeth and reduces the risk of tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontal diseases.

A research study reported that the chances of developing malignancies decreases as the frequency of teeth brushing increases.

However, it is not compulsory to brush your teeth three times a day. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time, using a fluoride toothpaste.

Do healthy people get cavities?

Yes, healthy people do get cavities. Sometimes, you might experience that you maintain good oral hygiene and you are healthy but still get cavities. 

Getting cavities depend on a person’s immunity and overall tooth morphology as well as diet.

When And How Often Should Children Brush Their Teeth?

It is important for infants and children to maintain good oral hygiene for a good overall health and development.

Use a soft-bristled infant toothbrush with a rice grain size of fluoride toothpaste for brushing their teeth.

Children 3 to 6 years old can brush their teeth twice a day, once in the morning and once at night, for 2 minutes each time using a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste.

It is important to supervise the brushing sessions of Infants and children, to prevent them from swallowing the fluoride toothpaste.


Park, Sohyun, et al. “Association of sugar-sweetened beverage intake during infancy with dental caries in 6-year-olds.” Clinical nutrition research 4.1 (2015): 9-17.

Marshall, Teresa A. “Preventing dental caries associated with sugar-sweetened beverages.” The Journal of the American Dental Association 144.10 (2013): 1148-1152.

Wilder, J.R., Kaste, L.M., Handler, A., Chapple-McGruder, T. and Rankin, K.M. (2016), Association between sugar-sweetened beverages and dental caries. J Public Health Dent, 76: 76-84.

Other FAQs about Teeth brushing that you may be interested in.

Can you brush your teeth too much?

Does Brushing Teeth Prevent Cavities?

Why Do I Keep Getting Cavities Even Though I Brush And Floss?

Why Do We Brush Twice A Day?


When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth. (2020)

What Is A Sweet Tooth? How To Deal With Sugar Cravings–how-to-deal-with-sugar-cravings

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