Should You Brush Your Teeth Before Or After Breakfast?
Proper tooth brushing techniques are the first line of defense in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease. But not only is there a right way to brush, there is also a right time to brush your teeth. New research reveals the corrosive effect bacteria can have on tooth enamel, and when the bacteria are at peak levels. Also, certain beverages typically consumed at breakfast time can temporarily weaken the tooth, rendering toothpaste and tooth brushing an abrasive act. So, should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?
To fully understand the reasoning behind tooth brushing before breakfast, one must understand the science and the bad actors behind tooth decay.
Plague is a tacky film that sticks to teeth. It is clear, soft, and hard to see. Plaque is bacteria in the mouth feeding on the sugars found in food and beverages. The plaque bacteria then create acid, which wears down the tooth enamel and irritates the gums.
Do not brush the teeth while they are in a weakened state.
When this acid forms in the mouth, the tooth enamel is in a temporarily weakened state. Toothpaste, by its very nature, is an abrasive substance. Brushing the teeth itself is also an abrasive act. Brushing the teeth after food is consumed, when acid production is at its peak, will actually cause a breakdown in the enamel over time.
The temporarily weakened state of the tooth in addition to plaque build-up, all contribute to tooth and gum decay. A strategy for preventing dental problems is two-fold:
Prevent plaque build-up.
In addition, if plaque isn’t properly removed, it calcifies into tartar.
Tartar is hard and settles above and below the gum line and can cause gum disease and inflammation. Because tartar is hard, it must be removed with special tools only available in a dentist office.
Now, since the formation of plaque is the first step in one part of the journey to tooth and gum decay, prevention is key.
If brushing takes place after the consumption of food and beverages, which contain sugars that feed the plaque, then it isn’t prevention.
Research shows that acid production in the mouth starts only seconds after bacteria is exposed to the sugars in food byproducts, and pH levels plummet from an alkaline state to an acidic state within five minutes after eating. Also, it takes nearly 30 minutes after eating for pH levels to return to normal, and this allows the bacteria plenty of time to produce acid. Remember, the acid is what feeds the plaque.
Speaking of acidity, breakfast beverage staples are typically quite acidic, coffee and orange juice being two such examples.
A research team in Bristol, England, found that erosion from acidic beverages alone caused teeth to become susceptible to toothpaste abrasion. Even if toothpaste wasn’t used to brush the teeth after consuming acidic beverages, brushing dry still resulted in enamel loss, since the very act of brushing is abrasive.
Therefore, the optimal time to brush is before breakfast, not after.
Research, and the science behind plaque build-up and the journey to tooth decay are convincing reasons to brush before breakfast, and not after.
While prevention is the best medicine, it isn’t the only line of defense for a healthy mouth. Proper cleanings every six months will keep teeth and gums free of periodontal disease.
Please visit Dr. Ramon Bana DDS for a customized dental hygiene plan to prevent, uncover, and treat oral problems before they get out of hand.