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Should You Brush Before or After Breakfast?

Harvey Dental Group
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BY Harvey Dental Group

Brushing at least twice a day for two minutes is part of your oral health routine. But when should those two times happen? Before you brush, take a look at what you need to know about timing, your teeth, meals, and making the most out of your at-home dental care.

A twice-a-day oral care routine typically equals brushing in the morning and the evening. Even though you know you should brush in the morning, you may not know which is better - to brush before or after breakfast. Read on for more information on the pros and cons of each option.

The Before-Breakfast Brush

Why should you brush when you wake up? Brushing your teeth immediately after getting out of bed has its advantages. These include:

  • Reducing bad breath. Morning breath is common. Between the bacteria breeding overnight and a decrease in saliva production, bad tastes and odors can invade. If this is a problem for you, or if your family, spouse, or other loved one complains about the scent, consider brushing first thing in the morning.
  • Decreasing decay. The same bacteria that cause morning breath produce enamel-eroding acids. Brushing the bacteria away can limit the number of bacteria - and the amount of decay.
  • Increasing salivation. As you sleep, the amount of saliva your body produces drops. Brushing before breakfast increases salivation, helping to protect your teeth when you do eat.
  • Reducing acid damage. Even though it may seem like a post-breakfast brush is best to remove acids, scrubbing your teeth immediately after eating or drinking acidic products can damage enamel.

Along with the benefits of brushing before breakfast, choosing a first-thing-in-the-morning approach may help you to remember your oral care routine. For some patients, brushing can get lost in the post-breakfast rush. But if you think you'll remember to brush after your morning meal, caring for your teeth after breakfast also comes with bonuses.

The Post-Breakfast Brush

What are the advantages to brushing after breakfast? Waiting to brush until after you eat can:

  • Remove debris. Small particles of food that stick behind after eating may lodge themselves between teeth, causing discomfort during the day. Brushing after your morning meal removes these particles, keeping your mouth clean and pain-free.
  • Reduce bacteria. The sugar-loving bacteria in your mouth feast on the leftover breakfast food in your mouth. A post-breakfast brush washes away the bacteria and the sugars they feed on.
  • Remove tastes and odors. A heavily spiced breakfast can leave you with a bad taste in your mouth all day long. A two-minute brushing session can reduce the tastes or odors, leaving you with fresh breath.

Brushing your teeth isn't the only post-breakfast strategy to increase your dental health. Flossing is a necessary part of the oral care routine. Waiting until after your morning meal to floss allows you to remove decay-causing debris and bacteria wedged in between your teeth.

The Other Options

Are brushing before or after breakfast your only options? While you should brush for at least two minutes (and floss too) in the morning, you can also:

  • Use mouthwash. If you don't like the morning breath smell and taste but don't want to brush right away, a mouthwash can reduce the odor and the bacteria level. This is also a post-breakfast option to freshen breath.
  • Drink water. On its own, water won't clean your teeth. But a few sips and a swish can moisten your morning mouth or wash away debris left over after you eat.
  • Brush twice. Talk to the dentist about this possibility. If you don't overdo it, the dentist may give the go-ahead to brush two times.

Diet is another way to limit pre- and post-breakfast issues. Skip sugar-filled cereals, fruit juices, and jelly or jam. These can increase plaque production and lead to decay.

Do you have more questions about when to brush? Contact the office of Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC, for more information.

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