How To Protect Your Teeth After Throwing Up

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Medically reviewed by Danielle Romatz, RDH

Throwing up can damage your teeth because of the stomach acid, bile, and other contents present in the vomit. People might think that brushing their teeth right after vomiting can save their teeth from dental erosion. However, this isn’t true. 

You can protect your teeth after throwing up by waiting for at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth. Brushing too soon afterward can do more harm than good. In the meantime, you can rinse your mouth out with water, mouthwash, or a solution made of baking soda and water.

There is a whole science behind the effects of vomiting on your teeth and how you can keep your teeth healthy after vomiting. You must know what to do in such a situation so that you can save your teeth from permanent damage. So, let’s learn everything about the connection between vomiting and dental health!

How Does Vomiting Affect Your Teeth?

Vomiting woman

Frequent vomiting can occur due to different diseases such as bulimia, treatment of cancer, etc. Many people might not know it, but vomiting has a direct relationship to the health of your teeth. 

When a person vomits, hydrochloric acid and bile from the stomach come to the mouth. Whenever an acid comes in contact with your tooth enamel, it causes severe damage to it. So, over time, your tooth enamel can erode due to frequent vomiting. 

Here’s how stomach acid can affect your tooth enamel:

Tooth enamel is made up of minerals — mainly hydroxyapatite. When any acid comes in contact with the minerals, the mineral crystals start to dissolve. This means that frequent contact with acid can dissolve the whole enamel layer of your tooth. 

When the tooth enamel wears away due to acidic contents, it can lead to dental decay and cavities. Enamel is a protective layer that fights against bacteria and tooth decay. If this proactive layer doesn’t stay intact, it can make your teeth a home for bacterial attacks and gum diseases.

Not only does the acid damage the tooth enamel, but also the salivary glands and gums. Weakened salivary glands mean less saliva production, and saliva is an important fluid to neutralize the acid in your mouth. Even when you take an acidic drink, the phosphoric acid in it causes enamel erosion, but enough saliva production can save the teeth from severe damage.

Acid reflux can also cause enamel erosion. When gastric fluids travel back from the stomach to the esophagus, they can find their way to the mouth as well. It causes the same damage as frequent vomiting. So, if you have a chronic problem of acid reflux, you should get it treated.

How Long Should You Wait to Brush After Vomiting?

The acid from vomit softens the tooth enamel while eroding it. Brushing your teeth might sound like the ideal thing to do after vomiting but that’s not the case. If you brush your teeth right after vomiting, you will cause more damage to the tooth. 

Tooth enamel is vulnerable after coming in contact with an acid. Therefore, you have to protect it from further damage and neutralize the acid that is on your teeth. After that, you can brush your teeth. 

You need to take care of your dental hygiene during times when your teeth are exposed to stomach acids. If this is something you experience often, you should know how to protect your teeth after vomiting. 

You should wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after you vomit. In these 30 minutes, rinse with a solution made of 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water. The baking soda will neutralize the acid and stop it from further damage.

In the meantime, your saliva will also neutralize the stomach acid and prevent further erosion. Make sure that you stay hydrated so that there is enough saliva production in your mouth. 

What Should You Do After Throwing Up?

Pregnant young tired woman is vomiting in toilet sitting on the floor and drinking water

There are some things you can do after throwing up to protect your teeth from stomach acid damage. Let’s take a look at them all.

Rinse Your Mouth

The first thing you should do after vomiting is to rinse your mouth with a suitable liquid. You can use water, mouthwash, or a homemade solution of water and baking soda.  

Go for a fluoride-containing mouthwash such as Listerine Anticavity Fluoride Mouthwash (on Amazon). Fluoride makes your tooth enamel healthy and promotes its strength.

For the best results, rinse your mouth with water first, and then use a mouthwash or baking soda rinse solution. 

Drink A Lot of Water

Staying hydrated is always a good idea for your body’s health. It’s essential after vomiting too. A hydrated mouth means enough saliva production, which works against the stomach acids after vomiting. Therefore, drink plenty of water during the day when facing frequent vomiting.

Wait Before Brushing Your Teeth

Even after rinsing your mouth with mouthwash, you should wait for 30 minutes or more before you brush your teeth. Immediate brushing can lead to further dental erosion leading to permanent damage to your teeth.

Brush Your Teeth Properly

After 30 minutes or an hour, brush your teeth with a fluoride-based toothpaste. Don’t brush too harshly but be sure to brush thoroughly.

Make sure to brush under the gumline and on your tongue, and rinse properly. Acid can still be present on your tongue and can attack the teeth again.

Use a toothbrush with soft bristles. Brushing too hard or brushing with a stiff-bristled brush can damage the enamel, especially after an acid attack. 

Avoid Sugary Cough Drops

If you are sick and want to use cough drops, use sugar-free ones. Sugary cough drops can attack tooth enamel, causing it to erode. It can have similar effects as vomiting. So, even if you take care of your dental hygiene after vomiting, you can damage the teeth with sugary cough drops.

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