How to Keep Teeth Clean in Between Meals

How do we keep our teeth clean after every meal without brushing them? Dr. Kara Fitzgerald shares the “secret ingredient.”

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How to Keep Teeth Clean in Between Meals

My friend and colleague, Dr. Kara Fitzgerald, a brilliant functional medicine physician, emailed me a great question from one of her patients the other day. The patient asked:


Is there any product you can recommend that will clean my mouth after I’ve eaten something, without having to brush my teeth? I don’t mean I want to stop brushing my teeth, but I don’t want to brush them every time I eat. I find that after I eat lunch, and if I have some dark chocolate, by the end of the day my gums are a little sensitive when I floss.

A: Dry brushing (no toothpaste) is best of course, and it’s what I do. However, chewing gum is extremely effective, as long as the artificial sweetener is natural and safe. If there is any sign of myofascial pain or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorders), then chewing gum may not be a good thing.

You only have to chew for about five minutes to get the benefits. The saliva production that occurs after gum chewing is way more effective than rinsing with mouthwash or water. That’s because saliva promotes remineralization—which is the process of replacing minerals in the teeth. Cavities form when a tooth loses minerals (demineralizes) faster than it replaces those minerals (remineralizes). Saliva encourages remineralization, helping your teeth replace minerals at a faster rate than it loses minerals to acids.

An ingredient called xylitol also promotes remineralization. Xylitol is a common ingredient in many natural chewing gums.

Drinking alkaline liquids after a meal also helps. Pellegrino has a pH of 7.9, but Perrier has a pH of 5.9. So you have to know your liquids! Tap water usually is on the acidic side of the pH scale.

It’s as simple as that! Your saliva is the best thing you’ve got to protect your teeth from acid-causing bacteria. As it is with most health-related issues, mother nature has a built-in solution that is better than any product you can buy in the store.

Mark Burhenne DDS

I highly recommend Dr. Kara Fitzgerald’s podcast, New Frontiers in Functional Medicine.

Read Next: What to Eat—And What to Avoid—to Heal Cavities Naturally

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  1. Deane Alban says:

    I chew soft mints sweetened with xylitol. I’ve heard that it keeps bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Is that true? Do you think this is as helpful as chewing gum?

  2. I actually keep some floss in my purse. If needed, I will sneak away and do a quick floss of my teeth. Most of the time, gum does suffice. It all depends on what I have for a meal when I am out. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Arlene Breuker says:

    Do you think you can remineralize teeth and fix a cavity by doing so? My son has a small cavity and decalcified teeth. I am going to buy the book, Cure Tooth Decay, and want to fix the cavity on my own, but also concerned if I wait too long and do not have it filled, the cavity will grow. I understand phytic acid is bad and going to stick with the diet as best as possible with a 10yr old, but do you have any advice?

  4. Great post! I always make it a point to chew gum after meals, but I never knew it had such great benefits for your teeth. Brushing your teeth too often can actually weaken your teeth, but you also don’t want to let food sit in your teeth for too long, so having these options is great. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Hilmy @ Gowisebrands says:

    I use a water flosser between every meals to clean my mouth and it works well than string floss.

  6. Lilia Robberts says:

    Having clean teeth feels so good to me. But there has been times that I have over-brushed my teeth, that have left my gums feeling sore. Thank you for letting me know that after I eat, I can dry brush my teeth. Along with this, I want to look into a dentist who can clean my teeth really well.

  7. Penelope Smith says:

    This is some really good information about how to keep your teeth clean. It is good to know that it would be smart to make sure that your mouth has enough saliva because it helps with remineralization. Personally, I would want to ask a dentist about other things I can do about keeping my teeth healthy.

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