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What’s the first thing you do when you wake up in the morning? Do you head straight to the kitchen for coffee and breakfast, or do you brush your teeth first? Some of you are probably thinking, “Brush my teeth before having coffee?! That’s crazy!” It makes way more sense to brush afterwards to freshen your breath before going about your day, right? As your Anderson dental experts, we see our patients make this common mistake all the time. You might think that brushing your teeth immediately after drinking coffee or eating breakfast will help prevent stains or cavities, but really, brushing first can protect your enamel from harm.

The good news is that with a simple switch to your routine, you can keep your teeth strong, healthy and stain-free for years to come. So if you’ve been wondering if you should brush your teeth before or after breakfast, read on. In this post, the Carolina Oaks Anderson team will share:

When to Brush Your Teeth: Before or After Breakfast?

Intuitively, brushing your teeth after coffee or breakfast does seem to make more sense. Why would you want to go through the rest of your day with coffee breath or with food particles sitting on your teeth? But in reality, brushing your teeth after having your coffee can make matters worse. It comes down to acid and the disruption of the natural pH balance in your mouth.

Coffee (and certain foods) is highly acidic, which can lead to the erosion of your tooth enamel, the outer layer of your teeth that keeps them safe from chemical and physical harm. Again, you might be thinking that brushing after coffee would reduce that risk. But actually, if you brush your teeth immediately after drinking coffee, it means you’re brushing the acid further into your teeth. This can cause the enamel to break down even faster, which can lead to increased tooth sensitivity.

If you brush your teeth before coffee, though, it creates a protective barrier that can help prevent acid from adhering to and penetrating the tooth enamel. This will ultimately help you avoid tooth decay and staining. So, while it might be counterintuitive, you should brush your teeth before having your morning coffee or breakfast whenever possible.

When Can You Brush Your Teeth After Coffee?

But what if you really don’t want to leave the house without brushing your teeth, or you just really need that extra-fresh feeling? We get it. It’s always nice to freshen your breath after drinking coffee or eating breakfast. If you really prefer to brush afterwards, that’s okay — as long as you time it right.

So if you want to know how long to wait after eating to brush your teeth, we recommend holding off for at least 30 minutes before grabbing your toothbrush. That’s because your saliva needs time to neutralize the acidity from the coffee. After 30 minutes, the pH levels in your mouth will be back to normal, which means it’s safe to brush your teeth without risking damage to your enamel. So you really can have your coffee and drink it too!

Tips for Freshening Your Breath After Coffee

Now you know why you shouldn’t brush your teeth right after drinking coffee. So how can you still get that minty fresh sensation without brushing? Here are a few tips to keep your teeth and gums healthy after drinking coffee or eating acidic foods:

  • Rinse with water: Giving your teeth a solid rinse with plain old water can help wash away food particles and eliminate some of the acid while also making your mouth feel fresher.
  • Floss: Flossing is a great way to freshen your teeth after eating that doesn’t exacerbate any negative effects of acid. Flossing is also a super healthy part of your oral hygiene routine so why not get into the habit now?
  • Chew sugar-free gum: Instead of brushing your teeth right away after coffee or food, try chewing gum. We recommend sugar-free gum to avoid plaque and bacteria build-up. Chewing gum also helps stimulate your saliva production which acts as a natural safeguard against acidity, meaning you’ll be ready to brush your teeth that much sooner.

Of course, we want to reiterate that it’s important to brush your teeth at least twice a day — once in the morning and once before bed — to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But there are a few little tricks to help you get the most of your oral hygiene routine, including brushing your teeth before coffee. It’s also important to visit your Anderson dentist for regular check-ups. Due for a routine cleaning? Contact Carolina Oaks Dental Care of Anderson today to book your next appointment.

Dr. Layne

Author Dr. Layne

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