The Debate Continues: Should You Brush Before or After Breakfast?

At our Eugene family dental practice, Dr. Rita Feldmanis always encourages her patients to practice the very best oral hygiene possible. The American Dental Association recommends brushing at least twice a day, once in the morning and again at night, along with flossing at least once a day. By practicing these habits daily, and scheduling regular cleanings and exams with Dr. Feldmanis, patients can significantly improve their oral health by lowering the risk for tooth decay and gum disease.

Of course, even if you follow these directions daily, one important question still remains – should you brush before or after breakfast?

While the answer might seem obvious, there are arguments for both sides that make this question more perplexing than you might think. So let’s take a more in-depth look at this subject and see if we can’t find a solution that makes the most sense.

The Case for Brushing After You Eat

Waking up in the morning, you stumble into the kitchen to start the coffeemaker and fix yourself a bowl of cereal or cook up some bacon and eggs. Once you’ve finished eating, you can get ready for work or school by taking a quick shower and brush up before leaving the house. Now, you start the day with minty fresh breath and don’t have to worry about showing up for a meeting or a class with food stuck between your teeth.

Brushing after you eat also ensures that the taste of toothpaste doesn’t linger in your mouth, making your eggs or bagel taste funny. Overall, brushing after you eat allows you to enjoy breakfast while still looking and feeling your best before leaving the house.

The Case for Brushing Before You Eat

This option often appeals to those who eat while on the go. You wake up, shower, and brush before quickly heading out the door. Breakfast usually takes the form of a bagel, sandwich, or sweet treat you pick up while ordering your morning coffee or tea. By brushing before you leave the house, you set yourself up for enjoying quality oral health over the long-term, while foregoing the advantage of making sure your smile looks its best early in the day.

Brushing before you eat also ensures that you don’t forget about it or run out of time as you frantically scramble to get to the office or class. Overall, brushing as part of a morning ritual helps ensure you stay consistent with your oral hygiene.

The Case Against Brushing After You Eat

On the surface, it would seem like brushing after you eat makes the most sense. Not only do you start off the day looking your best, you also remove food particles from the surface of your teeth rather than leaving them to sit for the remainder of the day. But this option isn’t clearly as beneficial as you might think. In fact, it may actually do more harm to your oral health.

While tooth enamel ranks as one of the strongest and most resilient parts of the body, it does have weaknesses. For example, highly acidic foods and drinks, such as orange juice, coffee, and tomatoes, can actually temporarily weaken tooth enamel. By brushing immediately after drinking a glass of O.J. with your breakfast of eggs and diced tomatoes, you could actually end up damaging your enamel.

When the pH level of your mouth increases toward being more acidic, tooth enamel becomes softer and more malleable. Brushing your teeth when in this state can cause enamel to break down, making your teeth more susceptible to the effects of decay and cavities.

The Case Against Brushing Before You Eat

Unlike brushing after you eat, brushing before doesn’t really have any negative consequences to your oral health. While brushing to remove the remnants of breakfast does help keep your teeth looking their best at the start of the day, brushing right after a meal presents a bigger risk to the health of your teeth than the alternative. That’s why the majority of dentists recommend patients brush in the morning before eating breakfast to ensure their teeth remain healthy and looking their best.

So there you have it. While brushing before you eat offers the greatest benefit to your teeth, it’s important that patients continue brushing in the morning regardless of when.

So do you brush before or after eating breakfast? Did this blog help change your behavior? Let us know the next time you visit our Eugene family dental practice.

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