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Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Breakfast?

Kelly Brown Headshot
Written by
Kelly Brown
Medically Reviewed by 
Dr. Erica Anand
6 Sources Cited

Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Breakfast?

Many people assume they should brush their teeth after breakfast to wash away the food they consumed. However, the opposite might be true.

Dental health professionals agree that everyone should brush their teeth at least twice daily for two minutes at a time. There is less information regarding exactly when brushing should occur.

Many dental professionals recommend brushing before breakfast. This may sound counterproductive, but it might be best for your oral health.

Brushing Your Teeth Before Breakfast

There are several pros and cons of brushing your teeth before breakfast:

Pros

  • Bacteria, which causes plaque, builds up in your mouth while you sleep (brushing first thing in the morning washes it away)
  • Coats your tooth enamel and protects your teeth from acids found in many foods and drinks
  • Jumpstarts saliva production, which helps with digestion

Cons

  • Leaves food particles on and between teeth after breakfast 
  • Doesn’t help reduce bad breath, especially from coffee
  • Eating high-acid foods for breakfast, and not brushing afterwards, can damage teeth over time

Never brush immediately after you eat citrus fruits or drink juice. Highly acidic fruits can weaken enamel and wear away quicker if you brush too soon. 

Brushing Your Teeth After Breakfast

Here are the pros and cons of brushing your teeth after breakfast:

Pros

  • Freshens breath after breakfast
  • Cleans your teeth and removes food debris

Cons

  • Makes saliva less effective in buffering against food acids
  • Offers no pre-meal protection for your enamel
  • Leaves bacteria that built up overnight in your mouth

If you choose to brush after eating, make sure you wait at least one hour.

How to Brush & Floss Your Teeth Properly 

Many people know how important it is to brush their teeth. But they may not do it properly. The good news is it’s never too late to learn proper brushing techniques.

To brush your teeth properly, follow these six steps:

1. Select the Right Brush

Choose a toothbrush that can reach all areas of your mouth. In most cases, this will be an electric toothbrush with a small head. 

Select a brush with soft bristles. Medium and hard bristles do not clean better. They can actually damage your tooth enamel and gums and make brushing painful.

2. Time Your Brushing

Never brush immediately after consuming acidic or sour drinks, such as fruit juices or coffee. Wait at least one hour.

3. Organize Your Brushing Routine

The optimal brushing routine consists of the following steps:

  1. Floss your teeth and tongue scrape to loosen plaque, bacteria, and food particles 
  2. Brush your teeth after you floss and clean your tongue
  3. Finish your routine with mouthwash to remove any remaining bacteria and freshen breath 

4. Hold Your Brush Properly

Your toothbrush should hit your teeth and gums at a 45-degree angle. Make sure to brush both the front and back (tongue-side) of your teeth.

5. Take Your Time

There’s no reason to rush through brushing. You should brush for at least two full minutes, twice a day. Some people suggest singing “Happy Birthday” two times while brushing to estimate how long they should brush.

6. Don’t Overdo It

In addition to taking your time, you should also take it easy. You don’t need to press or scrub when brushing. If you use an electric or motorized toothbrush, all you need to do is hold the brush gently against your teeth.

Summary

Most dental health experts recommend brushing your teeth before eating breakfast. This protects your tooth enamel and washes away plaque-causing bacteria that builds up in your mouth overnight. 

It’s also important to make sure you’re using proper brushing practices. This includes choosing the right kind of brush, reaching all areas of your mouth, and not brushing too hard or too fast.

Brushing your teeth after breakfast also freshens your breath. If you choose to eat first and then brush, wait at least 60 minutes.

Last updated on April 8, 2022
6 Sources Cited
Last updated on April 8, 2022
All NewMouth content is medically reviewed and fact-checked by a licensed dentist or orthodontist to ensure the information is factual, current, and relevant.

We have strict sourcing guidelines and only cite from current scientific research, such as scholarly articles, dentistry textbooks, government agencies, and medical journals. This also includes information provided by the American Dental Association (ADA), the American Association of Orthodontics (AAO), and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
  1. American Dental Association. “Brush Teeth - American Dental Association.” 
  2. Brushing Your Teeth: Does Timing Matter?” Mayo Clinic, 2019. 
  3. Basics of Oral Health.. 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  4. Oral Health. 2019, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 
  5. Dental Health” Medlineplus.gov, National Library of Medicine, 2009,. 
  6. World Health Organization. “Oral Health.” Who.int, World Health Organization: WHO, 25 Mar. 2020. 
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