Most people know they should brush their teeth at least twice a day. That is the recommendation from the experts at the American Dental Association (ADA),— the professional organization that also advises people to brush for a full two minutes each time.
Their guidelines do not, however, give any type of recommendation for when people should do the brushing. Most people brush in the morning and in the evening simply out of habit. If you are one of these people, you might be brushing in the morning after you eat breakfast. What if you found out that isn’t the best time to brush your teeth each morning?
Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Breakfast?
Some experts recommend brushing your teeth before you eat breakfast. Why? They say it’s better for your tooth enamel, as well as your overall oral health.
You might balk at the idea of brushing your teeth when you get up, then having your morning coffee or orange juice with the taste of toothpaste still in your mouth. However, this might be the best thing for your teeth.
During the night, the plaque-causing bacteria in your mouth multiply while you are sleeping. This is the reason for the term “morning breath.” When you brush immediately upon waking, you get rid of the bacteria. The toothpaste coats your enamel with a barrier that can protect your teeth against the acids in foods and beverages. Brushing first thing in the morning also triggers saliva production. Saliva is beneficial for helping to flush bacteria from your teeth. It also helps break down the food you chew.
Most people have been taught to brush immediately after eating, but according to the Mayo Clinic, you should wait for at least 30 minutes after eating before you brush. This is especially true if you consume anything that is acidic — which encompasses most breakfast foods such as orange juice, coffee and toast. Tooth enamel tends to be weakened after we eat, and waiting for a half-hour can help return the pH balance to your mouth. This gives the tooth enamel enough time to harden again.
What to Do If You Still Want to Brush Your Teeth After Breakfast
If it works better for your morning routine to wait until after you have breakfast to brush, you can still do it. However, you should keep the following tips in mind.
Breakfast Foods Are Usually Acidic
Breakfast favorites are some of the worst culprits when it comes to acidity and being tough on tooth enamel. These include:
- Orange or other citrus juice
- Dried fruit
When you brush your teeth after consuming these items, you might be covering your teeth with the remnants of the acidic foods, weakening your tooth enamel. This is why brushing right after eating — especially after breakfast — is not good for your teeth.
Wait After Eating Before Brushing
One of the best ways to ensure you are not harming your enamel is to wait for a half-hour to an hour after eating before you brush. The American Dental Association recommends you wait the full 60 minutes after eating before you brush. Keep in mind that this same rule applies after you eat any meal. Waiting before you brush gives your saliva a chance to help wash away the bacteria left on your teeth from food and drink. If you want to clean your mouth after your meal, you can swish with water or chew sugar-free gum.
Proper Brushing Technique
Brushing your teeth properly is possibly even more important than deciding whether you will brush before or after breakfast. Follow these steps — whether you use an electric toothbrush or a manual brush with nylon bristles:
- Wet the brush with water before adding a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
- Hold the brush at a 45-degree angle to help gain access to those hard-to-reach nooks and crannies.
- Brush for a full two minutes, making sure to hit the fronts, backs and tops of the teeth. Most electric toothbrushes have timers on them making it easy to ensure you hit all four quadrants of your mouth for an adequate amount of time. Consider setting a timer if using a manual brush.
- Sweep the toothbrush over your tongue to clear it of any toothpaste residue.
- Spit and rinse thoroughly with water, once finished.
There’s one more thing to remember. Regardless of whether you brush before or after breakfast, don’t forget to floss at least once a day.
Contact West Coast Dental
American Dental Association (ADA) — Oral Health Topics
Healthline – Tooth Enamel Erosion: What You Should Know
Mayo Clinic – Adult health
Mouth Healthy – 8 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2021