Many people assume that brushing their teeth is always the best way to protect themselves against cavities and gum disease. While it is essential to keep your mouth as clean as possible, there are some times when brushing isn't the right thing to do to protect your teeth and gums. Here are some situations when it is better to avoid picking up your toothbrush and instead take alternative steps to protect your dental health.

1. Immediately After a Meal

If you dash from a breakfast of orange juice, berries and yogurt into the bathroom to brush your teeth, you could put yourself at risk of enamel erosion. While fruit is full of vitamins that are good for your health, it also contains acids that can temporarily soften tooth enamel. If you scrub your teeth with a toothbrush immediately after eating citrus fruit or drinking fruit juice, you could wear away the enamel coating that protects your teeth from bacteria. Dentists recommend that you wait at least 30 minutes after consuming acidic fruits or juices before reaching for your toothbrush.

It's not only citrus fruits that soften tooth enamel. Many other foods contain trace amounts of acids, while others contain sugars, which feed bacteria that produce acids as waste products. After any meal, dentists recommend that you wait at least 20 minutes before you brush your teeth.

2. When You've Just Vomited

Vomit is extremely acidic, as it contains stomach acid as well as the acids that naturally occur in food. While your automatic reaction after vomiting might be to brush your teeth to get rid of the awful taste, doing so can put your tooth enamel at risk. Instead, protect your teeth and neutralise the bad taste by rinsing your mouth with a dilute solution of baking soda in water.

3. When You're in a Rush

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth for at least two minutes to ensure you get rid of as much plaque as possible. When you're in a rush, it's likely that you will miss sections of your smile. Even worse, the stress of running late may cause you to brush too hard, which can irritate your gums. If you frequently find yourself quickly jabbing a toothbrush around your mouth before running out of the door, try rearranging your schedule so you have time to devote at least two minutes to slowly and carefully brushing each tooth in turn.