By Mary Kay Kleist

(CBS) — After a rich meal, or a cup of coffee, or a diet soda, you may have the urge to brush your teeth.

But as CBS 2’s Mary Kay Kleist reports, dentists warn that the extra brushing could be doing more harm than good.

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Whether it’s cereal for breakfast, or your favorite sandwich and fruit for lunch, you may reach for the toothbrush right after a meal.  Turns out, it’s one of the worst things you can do.

Parent Debbie Johnson brushes three to four times a day, and tells her kids to do the same.

But that may not be the best strategy.

“The acid in the food binds with the saliva, and it weakens the enamel, leaving the tooth more susceptible to decay as well as erosion,” dentist Jill Pasinski of Riverwalk Family Dental in Naperville says.

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That could brush the acid deeper into the enamel, she says.

Examples of acidic foods are tomato-based soups, pastas, pizzas, salsa, citrus fruits and juices and wine. Sugary foods like candies, sweet beverages, cereal and even bread can cause the same problem.

Dentists say it’s best to simply drink water or chew sugar-free gum.

“You actually increase the amount of saliva, which will actually bathe the tooth and rinse away any cavity-causing bacteria. And that constant bathing of the tooth will keep the tooth healthy,” Pasinski says.

Or just wait at least a half hour before brushing. That advice may change the morning ritual for the Johnson family.

“They need to get up earlier to have breakfast so that way they can brush after 30 minutes,”  Johnson says.

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The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day and flossing often.

Mary Kay Kleist