Picture the scene. You just gave your teeth a full brush and a serious floss. You sit down for the evening to watch the latest episode of your new Netflix obsession. Something is missing. The kettle is calling out to you, just one last cup…
This is a really common question because so many people get stuck in the same position. You’ve already brushed but you want just one more cuppa before bed. Though it’s tempting, it’s not a good idea – here’s why.
Can You Drink Tea After Brushing Your Teeth?
You really shouldn’t drink tea after brushing your teeth in the evening. Apart from water, you shouldn’t eat or drink anything before going to bed and after that last brush. Otherwise, you are undoing most of the work of brushing.
However, you can drink tea after brushing your teeth in the morning or later in the day but we’d recommend waiting for thirty minutes after brushing.
The reason we brush our teeth and use toothpaste is to: –
- Remove any food debris that causes plaque to build up as well as bad breath
- Remove built-up plaque – the stuff that eats tooth enamel
- Coat your teeth with fluoride, which is absorbed by and strengthens your teeth’s enamel
Having a clean set of teeth and that extra layer of fluoride is really helpful overnight when you’ve got 8 or 10 hours before you next brush your teeth. That’s because it’s very hard to remove all bacteria from your mouth even with a thorough clean.
While you’re sleeping, that bacteria starts breaking down your enamel. So, the aim of brushing last thing before bed is to have as little bacteria as possible, and a nice coating of protective fluoride for the night.
Is Drinking Tea After Brushing Your Teeth Bad?
So basically, drinking tea after brushing your teeth in the evening is a bad idea. Tea is especially bad because it contains tannins that can stain your teeth yellowy-brown. The same goes for coffee and other darker drinks like red wine.
We’re talking mainly about the classic British style of tea, which is actually black tea that’s mostly grown and imported from India. It’s also grown in countries like China and Sri Lanka, and different brands use different parts of the leaf in various preparations. White tea is actually from the same plant but processed in a different way.
How Long After Drinking Tea Can I Brush My Teeth?
As with all food and drinks, we recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after drinking tea before you brush your teeth. If you brush immediately your enamel is a little weaker than after waiting.
Does Tea Contain Flouride?
Yes! Tea contains fluoride at much higher levels than previously thought according to some scientific studies. It does depend on how it’s prepared and the age of the leaves.
Is Drinking Tea Good Or Bad For Teeth?
Even though we’ve just said drinking tea is generally bad because you want fluoride in your mouth at night, drinking tea on its own is different. Getting a bit of extra fluoride in tea is actually pretty good as long as you aren’t drinking more than a couple of cups a day.
However, tea doesn’t just contain fluoride. The tannins in tea are staining, and that can override any good the fluoride does. Most people also drink tea with milk (which has natural sugars) and sugar. This sweet mix coats your mouth and teeth with bacteria that try to break down the sugars, as well as break down enamel.
Find out about more things that stain braces in our article on Food To Avoid With Braces
Fluoride in water or in toothpaste is much better. If you’ve brushed and you are adding just a little fluoride, it can strengthen and protect your teeth when left on its own. It’s also best to spit after brushing but not rinse your mouth out, leaving some helpful fluoride next to the teeth. So it’s a mixed bag.
Tea also contains acids that break down enamel. However, they’re not present as much as in soft drinks. So overall, black tea has some benefits and some drawbacks. The tannins and acids are bad, but the fluoride is good. However, there are better ways (toothpaste and mouthwash) of getting fluoride.
Tea is also mildly acidic, which is bad for teeth and braces in the same way that drinking orange juice with braces is a bad idea. There are some studies that have found drinking black tea is good for your tooth health. One found there was no significant effect on oral bacteria from drinking black tea.
So, feel free to drink the odd cup of tea with braces, but try not to add milk or sugar. Having just milk gives a little sweetness but without just adding pure sugar so that’s a better option than both. Either way, you should also always brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking a cup of tea.
Can I Drink Green Or Herbal Tea After Brushing My Teeth?
The same rules go for drinking green or herbal teas after brushing your teeth. Green tea is marginally better than black tea. White tea and Ceylon or Oolong are not quite as staining as black tea but still contain tannins. Other herbal teas like ginger, peppermint, chamomile, or dandelion are much better, but the guidelines still apply.
How To Drink Tea With Braces
- Wait for 30 minutes after brushing your teeth before drinking tea
- Avoid adding sugar and milk – adding just milk isn’t as bad
- Brush your teeth 30 minutes after drinking tea or eating food
- Once you’ve brushed your teeth before bed, don’t have tea or any other food/drinks without brushing again
Watch out if you are wearing braces wax, as the hot tea can often dislodge it. You should always remove braces wax before eating but it’s still safe to eat braces wax if you accidentally swallow some.
Is Green Tea Good For Your Teeth?
Green tea is different from black tea in a number of ways. It does contain tannins but at much lower levels. It’s also caffeine-free. There are some studies that have found drinking green tea can be beneficial to health.
However, it’s still not a good idea to drink green tea shortly after brushing your teeth, or after brushing your teeth before bed at night, for the same reasons drinking other teas is bad after brushing. If you have a cup of green tea, try not to add sugar or milk, and remember to brush 30 minutes after.