The complete guide to eating after a cleaning
Once you’ve made the decision to get your teeth cleaned by a dentist or a dental hygienist, you may find yourself asking a lot of questions. How often do you need a cleaning? What does a cleaning involve? What kind of at-home care should you be doing? And what can you eat after a cleaning? Concerns about staining or discoloring your teeth by eating colorful foods after a procedure that might leave them more permeable than usual are normal. CHD is here to help with a comprehensive guide to what to eat and when after a cleaning.
The inside skinny on eating after a cleaning
- If your cleaning included a fluoride treatment or air polishing, you need to wait 30 minutes to eat.
- If you didn’t have a fluoride treatment or air polishing, there’s no need to wait.
- We do recommend avoiding foods that could stain or discolor your teeth for at least 6 hours after a cleaning.
- And wait 6 hours to smoke, too.
- Teeth cleanings are safe for everyone, but you should still take a few precautions. If you have heart problems, you will need to notify your provider.
When can you eat after a cleaning?
You can eat after a cleaning (in fact, we recommend eating!), but how long you need to wait and what you should eat will depend on the type of procedure you had done.
Cleaning plus fluoride treatment
If your cleaning was followed by a fluoride treatment, you should wait 30 minutes before eating. Otherwise the fluoride can be diluted, making it less effective.
The fluoride applied at the end of your cleaning is highly concentrated, so don’t waste the opportunity to make sure your teeth are well protected!
Cleaning without fluoride
If the hygienist didn’t finish your cleaning with a fluoride treatment, you can eat as soon as you feel ready.
Cleaning with AirFlow-type air polishers
If your hygienist used latest generation air polishing technology like AirFlow for your cleaning, we recommend waiting 30 minutes before eating because your teeth are temporarily at higher risk of staining.
What can you eat after a teeth cleaning?
No matter how your cleaning was done, we recommend sticking to foods that don’t risk staining your teeth, since they are slightly more permeable after a cleaning.
That means avoiding:
- drinks like coffee, tea, soda, and wine, berries (blackberries, blueberries, black currants),
- certain vegetables like red cabbage, beets, and tomato sauce,
- and spices (curry, paprika, saffron).
While you can eat 30 minutes after a cleaning, your tooth enamel cuticle will remain porous – meaning it can absorb colors – for 6 hours.
Are there any other rules to follow before or after a cleaning?
Cleanings are safe for everyone, but there are a few basic rules to follow.
Regular cleanings are recommended for all ages. Follow up at home with good toothbrushing and oral hygiene habits (we highly recommend electric toothbrushes, especially for seniors).
If you have serious heart problems, you will probably need to take preventive antibiotics since a teeth cleaning can introduce bacteria into your blood.
Pregnant? You can still safely get your teeth cleaned! In fact, we highly recommend that you do because your changing hormones can weaken your gums.
Why get your teeth cleaned?
A dental cleaning gets rid of dental plaque and tartar above and below your gums. Cleanings can use different techniques.
- They can be done manually with tools like curettes,
- or automatically using the latest technology like ultrasonic inserts.
The dentist or hygienist will also polish your teeth at the beginning or end of the procedure using two techniques that can be used separately or combined: air polishing and polishing paste applied directly to your teeth.
Can I smoke after a cleaning?
Smoking stains your teeth, so you should avoid it right after a cleaning. Your tooth enamel cuticle is porous for 6 hours after a cleaning, so you should wait 6 hours to smoke.
I’m getting my wisdom teeth extracted. What can I eat and when?
The day of the extraction, we recommend sticking to cold or lukewarm drinks and very soft or blended food.
Stick to that diet until your mouth has healed. It’s important to avoid foods that are hard on your mouth or require a lot of chewing so you don’t slow down the healing process.
And get lots of calcium, protein, and Vitamins C and D to help you heal.