Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? For many people, the answer seems obvious. Surely you’ll want to brush your teeth after breakfast to clean your teeth and get rid of any food particles? The reality is a little more complicated.
The right time to brush your teeth can depend on what you eat, how long since you’ve eaten, and what the bacteria level is within your mouth. Here we’ll look over all these factors to assess when the right time to brush is. Let’s get started!
Should You Brush Teeth Before or After Breakfast?
The bad news is that there is no clear answer and even dentists can argue on the subject. However, the majority of experts suggest that brushing before your breakfast is going to be the better solution due to the acids created while eating.
While that’s true, we recognize that everyone is different and there are some big benefits to brushing your teeth after breakfast. Read on as we’ll look at the advantages of each method so you can get a clear plan for your morning routine.
The Benefits of Brushing Before Breakfast
Here are all the reasons why brushing your teeth before breakfast would be a great idea.
1. Stops Bacteria Growth
When you wake up in the morning, the bacteria content in your mouth is never higher. This is partly because you haven’t been using your mouth for around eight hours but also because the mouth reduces saliva production at night, which is important to fight bacteria.
The problem is that this bacterium is just waiting to feed on the food you consume at breakfast. Once it does, then they will quickly produce acids that can damage your teeth.
When you brush straight after you wake up, you’ll remove most of these harmful bacteria from your mouth. Due to this, there will be fewer bacteria to produce acid and therefore less damage to your teeth.
2. Prevents Acid Brushing
Now, a question you may have is, does it matter if these bacteria produce acid if you’re going to brush after your breakfast anyway? The answer is yes because the act of brushing can be harmful if there is a lot of acid present.
With brushing, you can force this acid into the enamel which can wear it away. This is why it’s recommended that you wait at least 30 minutes after eating breakfast to brush your teeth as this gives time for your mouth to neutralize the acid.
3. Gets It Done
Do you have a busy schedule in the morning with lots of children running around? Or perhaps you’re the type to always run out of time and end up rushing out the door with a slice of toast still in your mouth?!
If this sounds like you, then brushing straight after you wake up helps to get it out of the way and allows you to get on with the rest of your morning routine. This way, you’ll always remember to do it. Brushing before breakfast is definitely better than not brushing at all!
4. Provides a Protective Layer
When you brush after getting up, then any high-quality toothpaste is going to contain fluoride. This fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that helps to prevent tooth decay which is why it’s often added to our water supply.
After brushing with fluoride toothpaste there will be a layer of this still left on your teeth. This will act as a barrier to any sugars or acids that are in your food. Your saliva will then look to neutralize these acids before they become a problem.
5. Production of Saliva
Many people may find saliva disgusting but it plays a hugely important role in our mouths. Firstly, it helps us break down our food and allows us to properly taste and swallow what we eat. Crucially it also fights germs, protects tooth enamel, and prevents decay.
Many of us wake up with a dry mouth and that’s because we don’t produce much saliva when we sleep. Brushing your teeth after you wake up helps to stimulate the production of saliva and allows you to get all the benefits above.
The Benefits of Brushing After Breakfast
While brushing before breakfast has many benefits, let’s look at the advantages of doing it after breakfast.
1. Better Breath
Brushing your teeth before your breakfast can pose a few problems. One of those is that your mouth will be left with the smell of whatever you’ve eaten. This may be an issue if you’ve consumed pungent food and drink, such as coffee or eggs.
Brushing your teeth after your breakfast will help to clean away these foods and leave your mouth feeling fresher. However, you can achieve the same result by using mouthwash or chewing sugar-free gum.
2. Clears Away Food
Are you the type to often get food stuck in your teeth? If so, then you may feel as though not brushing after breakfast is a non-starter. Brushing can clear all the food away and prevent any bacteria from feasting on it.
But as with getting better breath, there are alternative solutions to this such as swilling your mouth with water, using mouthwash, a toothpick, or even flossing.
3. Fluoride Not Displaced
We’ve already mentioned the benefits of fluoride. It can create a natural barrier on your enamel that can help to prevent tooth decay. Brushing your teeth after breakfast will keep this layer on your teeth and help to protect them until lunchtime.
Brushing before breakfast means that the act of eating can cause this fluoride to be displaced so you don’t get the benefits of longer-term protection.
4. No Nasty Tastes
Now, this is probably the biggest reason why people don’t want to brush their teeth before breakfast. It leaves that toothpaste taste in your mouth which may ruin your breakfast. This is especially annoying for those who don’t have a lot of time in the morning.
Of course, you may want to change your routine to make this a non-issue. For example, if you brush your teeth and then have a shower and get changed, the taste will probably be gone by the time you have breakfast.
5. Minimal Acid Production
It’s a fact that bacteria produce acid when you eat food. It’s also a fact that brushing your teeth with this acid present is a bad idea. However, many don’t see this as a big issue if you brush your teeth immediately after having breakfast.
For example, you wake up and have a few slices of toast that take 10 minutes to eat. In those 10 minutes, the bacteria wouldn’t have much time to get started. Brushing your teeth quickly after breakfast makes the impact of acid production minimal.
What’s The Right Solution for You
Confused? We’re not surprised. It’s important to note that there are no clear answers here so you shouldn’t feel bad about doing either. To make your decision easier, it’s good to answer a few key questions.
- When Do You Have Breakfast? – Many people don’t have an appetite immediately after waking up. If you like to have your first meal of the day more than half an hour after waking up, then it would make sense to brush your teeth when you wake up.
Conversely, if you want to eat straight away, then have your breakfast and then wait at least 30 minutes (ideally an hour) before brushing your teeth so your saliva can neutralize those acids.
- How Busy Are You? – Some of us like to get up very early, long before our working day begins. Others like to get up, get changed, and get out of the house very quickly. If you take your time then you can either brush immediately and wait to eat your breakfast, or do the opposite.
If you’re always in a rush, then it makes sense to brush your teeth right away. This is especially true if you’re the type who likes to eat breakfast on the way to, or at, work. As mentioned above, if you always run out of time in the morning then brushing right away also makes sense.
- What Are You Eating? – What you are eating for breakfast can also have an impact on when you should brush. With acidic foods, it’s generally not advised to brush straight after eating as you can brush those acids onto your enamel. For those not eating acidic food, brushing after breakfast is going to be less of a big deal.
Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? The answer is that before is generally seen as better but the evidence is weak. Due to that, don’t feel bad if you’re one of the many people that prefer to brush their teeth after breakfast.
If you do brush after breakfast, then it’s best to wait for 30 minutes for your mouth to neutralize the acid first, but using mouthwash can help to speed up the process. While people still debate the question of before or after, your teeth will stay healthy as long as you’re brushing twice a day.