Who even cares about Yanny and Laurel? That is so last week. For dentists, a more important either/or debate centers on whether people should brush their teeth before or after breakfast.
It turns out the order in which we perform our morning rituals (namely, teeth brushing) can impact the health of our teeth over the long haul. By the way, it doesn’t matter when you put on your deodorant in the morning line-up; just don’t forget to do it!
When queried, the topic of pre- or post-brekkie teeth-brushing divides respondents more quickly than a political town hall meeting during election season.
Some are die-hard brushers the moment they wake, usually citing “morning breath” as the motivating factor. Others prefer to have their first cup of coffee, or even breakfast, before brushing their pearly whites for the day.
As dental professionals, we should present a unified front on this life-or-death important topic.
Does Timing Actually Matter?
In a word, yes.
Why? Well, the lining of our teeth is made up of enamel, which is the hardest surface in our bodies!
But that doesn’t mean we can take it for granted or that it doesn’t have any vulnerabilities. Enamel can weaken and become worn away over time, with the main culprit being acidic foods.
Dental experts agree that brushing teeth right after eating is not good for tooth enamel. Foods and drinks contain food acids.
Even though enamel is strong, brushing acid-softened enamel will wear it down over time. The result is tooth decay and discolored teeth, since the yellow layer directly below the enamel, called dentin, becomes exposed.
Does What We Eat Matter?
Unfortunately, many of our favorite breakfast foods (especially the convenience variety) are acidic in nature. Fruit juices, grains, sugar and processed foods are the most acidic. But that doesn’t mean we should just skip breakfast!
On the contrary, mom was right. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. And there are plenty of breakfast foods that are good for your taste buds and good for your teeth.
For instance, foods that are higher in calcium are better for, and gentler on, your teeth. This includes yogurts, cheeses, spinach and chia seeds. Hello, smoothie! Or how about a breakfast bowl?
Before or After?
You should definitely encourage your patients to brush before breakfast. They should wake up, drink a big swig of water and then, brush it up, before doing anything else.
And for those inevitable bunch that insists on brushing after eating, just give a gentle reminder to wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing because tooth enamel needs time to recover before being brushed.