Dentist Digest Monthly: When Is The Best Time of Day To Brush Your Teeth?

Brush Your Teeth

We all know the basics of brushing. You should do it in the morning and evening to remove plaque and food particles, stave off bad breath and ward off problems like tartar and tooth decay.

And yet, some questions that remain. Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? And are those hygiene enthusiasts we all know—the ones who carry a toothbrush and use it right after every meal and snack—doing themselves a favor?

At Bridge Creek Dental, teeth are our business. With that in mind, here’s our advice on optimal oral hygiene.

You Should Brush Your Teeth Before Breakfast

Our a.m. brushing routine is particularly crucial because plaque—a film rife with bacteria—builds up more quickly at night due to the fact we produce less saliva while sleeping.

Many people brush their teeth after breakfast because they figure it’s a one-two punch. You can remove the plaque and ensure no trapped food particles from breakfast remain in your mouth. There are, however, a number of arguments for brushing your teeth before breakfast, with post-pancake adherents including experts like the Mayo Clinic and the National Health Service.

Brushing Before Breakfast Makes For Good Chemistry

When plaque combines with sugar, it forms an acid that attacks the enamel of your teeth. Brushing before eating minimizes this corrosive chemical reaction. Further, if you use fluoride toothpaste it creates an added layer of pre-meal protection.

Brushing your teeth after breakfast may actually be detrimental. Many breakfasts are chock full of acid, sugar and carbs, which, when digested, become sugars. Think foods like sugary cereal and toast and acid-heavy beverages like orange juice and coffee.

Sugars and acid alter the pH level in your mouth, weakening the tooth enamel. If you brush straight away after eating, you run the risk of scraping off this softened enamel. This, in turn, allows acid to penetrate deeper into your teeth.

Avoid Brushing Immediately After Eating

In fact, brushing immediately after any meal can compromise your tooth enamel. This is especially true if you’ve consumed something acidic like citrus fruit or a dish containing tomato sauce, which is heavy in both acid and sugar.

It’s recommended you wait between 30 minutes and an hour after eating before brushing. This lets the pH level in your mouth normalize and your enamel be restored enough to handle brushing.

If you want to make sure there are no food particles on your teeth and your mouth feels fresh after eating, you can swish water around in your mouth, rinse with an antimicrobial mouthwash or take the opportunity to floss.

You Should Always Brush Your Teeth In The Evening

If people are going to skip one of the two recommended daily brushing, they generally omit their evening brushing. A late night out or tough day can make it tempting to stumble into bed without your usual p.m. oral hygiene routine.

This, however, should be a rare occurrence. Think of it this way: your teeth have had a hard day, too! During the day, plaque builds up on our teeth and so do tiny bits of food accumulated during meals and snacks. If you hit the sack without brushing your teeth, this dental detritus causes bacteria that can weaken your tooth enamel. Further, the food can decay, causing bad breath.

You Should Have Your Teeth Regularly Cleaned At The Dentist

Good dental hygiene extends beyond conscientious home care. You should get your teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months or so. Our staff has the tools and expertise to get your pearly whites looking great. And when we peer into your mouth for cleaning purposes, we may be able to detect tooth or gum issues before they become a problem. A professional cleaning includes:

  • Scaling your teeth to remove built-up plaque and/or tartar
  • Root planting to clean any exposed roots that have begun to accumulate plaque or tartar
  • Dental polishing to leave your teeth squeaky clean and gleaming

Our dentists, the best in Billings, Montana, may also recommend further preventative care, like fluoride treatments or dental sealants. At Bridge Creek Dental, we work with you to ensure your teeth are well cared for, remaining in service and looking good when you smile. Contact us today to make an appointment.

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