Everyone knows that you should brush your teeth at least two times per day. Once, at night before you go to bed. The other time in the morning when you wake up. There is even a silly saying about it, that you brush at night to save your teeth and in the morning to save your relationships. However, your morning brushing does more than conquer morning breath. It is also important for the health of your teeth.
In many ways, whether you brush before or after breakfast is a matter of personal preference. However, because breakfast foods may be acidic, brushing at the wrong time can actually weaken tooth enamel. So, whether you brush before or after you eat breakfast, you do not want to brush within 30 minutes of eating.
If you brush before breakfast, you get that morning breath out of your mouth. Morning breath does not just smell gross; it can also impact the taste of your food. While morning breath is embarrassing, it is normal. As you sleep, bacteria in your mouth multiply. These bacteria are responsible for causing morning breath, but, even worse, they cause plaque. When you brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste, you get rid of those bacteria. Modern toothpastes also coat your teeth with a protective barrier that can help keep acid in your food from damaging your teeth. In addition, brushing first thing helps promote saliva. Saliva is your body’s way of protecting your teeth. So, brushing first thing can be great.
Another reason that many dentists advise brushing before breakfast is because many breakfast foods are sugary. The same bacteria that cause morning breath love to feast on sugars. So, if you have a carbohydrate-heavy breakfast, they are ready to feast on those sugars, which can promote tooth decay. Brushing the bacteria out of your mouth stops that process. However, if you are having a sugary breakfast, you also run the risk of sugar sitting in your mouth all day.
The big pro to brushing after breakfast is fluoride. If you brush after breakfast and do not take a drink to-go, the fluoride sits on your teeth, uninterrupted. That can give you better protection throughout the day. So, if you do decide to brush after you eat, you can still protect your teeth. Just wait about an hour after eating to brush your teeth. You can also chew sugar-free gum just after brushing to help boost saliva-production, which will help you counteract any acid that is lingering in your mouth.
The smaller pro to brushing after breakfast is your breath is going to smell better. Eating a meal disrupts that minty-fresh smell of your breath. If you are not going to consume anything else, leaving the house with a freshly brushed smile will make your day more pleasant for you and everyone you encounter. However, that is not reality for many people. Many of us are leaving the house with a coffee or other beverage in a to-go cup. They can make our breath smell, too.
So, the general consensus is that it is better to brush before breakfast. However, dentists also think it is more important to brush after breakfast than to skip your morning brushing. So, if you are more likely to brush if you wait till after breakfast, then keep it as part of your routine. The most important thing is to consistently brush for 2 minutes or longer every morning and night. Developing those habits is one of the best ways to keep your mouth healthy.
Dr. Anthony Mancino is Monmouth and Ocean County New Jersey’s General and Cosmetic Dentist and has been practicing for over 25 years focusing on cosmetic and overall dental health. Dr. Mancino is a graduate of Villanova University and University of Pennsylvania. He is also a member of the American Dental Association, New Jersey Dental Association, Monmouth & Ocean County Dental Association, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and the Academy of General Dentistry.