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Brushing Before or After Breakfast: Which Is Best?

May 22, 2017
Posted By: Dr. Russell D. Mann
general dentistry | manchester nh

It’s an age-old question that has been the source of thousands of arguments throughout the years – should you be brushing before or after breakfast? Many people believe that it’s best to wait until after breakfast, as you’re supposed to brush your teeth after every meal anyway. However, others say that it’s important to scrub away all the bacteria that formed in your mouth while you were in dreamland. So who’s right? Drum roll, please…

Science shows that those who are brushing before breakfast are correct. In fact, this method is recommended by both the British Dental Health Foundation and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom. If you’re still in disbelief and denial, here are a few reasons why brushing when you wake up is so crucial to mouth health.

Overnight Plaque Buildup

As you might have expected, your mouth isn’t exactly the cleanest place when you wake up. There’s a reason you have stinky breath and a dry mouth, and it’s because of bacteria.

Even though you sleep for about a third of a day, your mouth only produces 10 to 15 percent of its saliva during this period. Saliva is essential for keeping your teeth lubricated and protected against bacteria, so an eight-hour reduction of it gives plaque plenty of time to take root.

While you can let all of this bacteria chill in your mouth until after breakfast is over, why take the chance when you could clean it all out when you wake up? It’s best to remove it right away.

Acidic Foods Leave Enamel Vulnerable

Plaque buildup isn’t the only reason to brush before breakfast. Typically, the foods we eat during our first meal of the day, like cereal or orange juice, have a lot of sugars or acids in them. This is great for giving your metabolism a boost, but not so good for your teeth.

These acids actually temporarily weaken the outer layer of your teeth. This happens because they change the pH level of your mouth. A neutral pH level is seven; however, just minutes after your mouth is exposed to sugar or acid, the pH level can drop to as low as 4.5. Brushing when your pH is this low can actually cause you to scrape off parts of your enamel and push the acid deeper into the tooth, leading to future tooth decay.

What to Do if You’re Set on Brushing After Eating

Ok, so it’s not as though brushing your teeth after eating breakfast will be a life or death decision. If you’re entirely set on your routine, there’s no need to force yourself to change. However, instead of brushing your teeth right after chowing down on your delicious breakfast splurge, it’s best to wait at least 30 minutes. This gives your mouth the time it needs to lower pH levels and make it safe to brush without harming enamel.

If you’re in a rush, you can also try using an alkaline mouth rinse to re-balance your pH levels in just a few minutes.

Have more pressing questions about your dental health? Dr. Mann can help! Just contact us today to schedule an appointment to get answers to your concerns.

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