The standard wisdom is that people should brush twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night. Doing so helps clean the teeth by removing food particles and the bacteria that feed off them and cause tooth decay.
While brushing twice a day is important, one of the most common questions people of all ages ask pediatric dentists is when exactly is the best time to brush. Specifically, is it better to brush before or after breakfast in the morning?
Read on for the pros and cons of each to decide which is best for you and your children.
Brushing Your Teeth Before or After Breakfast — What the Experts Say
While the American Dental Association recommends brushing twice daily, there isn’t specific guidance for when exactly. Many dentists generally recommend brushing before breakfast if at all possible. Although there are reasons why many people brush after breakfast, there are enough advantages to brushing before breakfast as soon after waking that this is generally the preferred choice.
Why Brush Before Breakfast?
Here are the main reasons to consider brushing before breakfast in the morning:
- Bacteria levels are at their highest concentration after a night’s sleep.
- Breakfast foods are usually highly acidic and starchy — brushing before helps protect your teeth from fruits, cereals, and coffee.
- Brushing after meals, especially sooner than 30 minutes, can spread food particles and acids around the teeth.
While it may be preferred to brush before breakfast, you can still benefit from brushing after. Mainly because many people just can’t handle the combination of toothpaste and orange juice. What’s more, people like the feeling of leaving the house with clean teeth after eating.
If you brush after breakfast, you may want to wait 30 minutes to an hour after eating. It is also beneficial to rinse with water or mouthwash to remove as much food material and acid from the mouth as possible.
The Importance of Good Dental Hygiene
Whether you and your family brush before or after breakfast, most dentists will be glad you brush twice daily. Tooth decay is caused by bacteria eating the remnants of food that stick to our teeth. As a byproduct, the bacteria creates acid that weakens the enamel and begins to eat away at the teeth, causing cavities.
Brushing, flossing, and limiting sugar as much as possible are the keys to preventing tooth decay and keeping a healthy smile for you and your little ones.
Tips for Proper Brushing
Most dentists will also tell you that brushing correctly may be more important than whether you brush before or after breakfast. So while there are advantages to brushing before breakfast, brushing the right way helps your family get the absolute most out of each brush. Here is what you and your family can do to ensure you are brushing properly:
- Wet your toothbrush before brushing so it isn’t too dry and moves easily across the teeth
- Put a small amount of fluoride toothpaste on the tip, about the size of a pea
- Brush at about a 45-degree angle to the gums
- Use a gentle circular motion to brush
- Be thorough — make sure you brush the front, back, and top of both your teeth
- Brush for about two minutes
- Brush the surface of your tongue to remove bacteria and any food particles
If at all possible, many dental professionals recommend using a high-quality electric toothbrush to gently stimulate the gums and remove the highest amount of food particles from the teeth. You should replace your toothbrush or brush head approximately every three months.
It is also critical to floss at least once daily to remove bits of food from the hard-to-reach spaces between the teeth.
Why It’s Important to See a Dentist Regularly
On top of brushing twice a day and flossing at least once a day, patients young and old should plan regular dental visits. Dentists and dental hygienists perform a complete examination to spot any early warning signs of tooth decay, a thorough cleaning to help stay on top of plaque and tartar buildup, and can help educate you and your family on proper oral hygiene.
Your dentist is the best person to talk to about your dental hygiene habits and can give you the best personal answer and insights for questions, including whether you should brush before or after breakfast.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!