Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? We talked to a dentist to find a definitive answer — plus what you should be eating to keep your whole mouth healthy.
It’s perhaps the most important philosophical debate of our time: Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast? Okay, not really. But as it turns out, whether you brush your teeth before or after breakfast can impact the overall health and wellness of your teeth. In fact, that's just as important as what you eat (and no, skipping breakfast is not a sustainable shortcut). Fortunately, our quip dental-team-dynamos teamed up with the breakfast superfood-superstars over at Daily Harvest to help guide you through the ultimate health ~optimized~ morning routine.
Why does timing even matter?
The outer shell of your teeth is made up of enamel, which is basically the Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson of your anatomy: It’s the hardest substance in your body. But,then enamel is to acid as the Powerpuff Girls are to HIM (if you’re not familiar, HIM is the Powerpuff Girls arch-nemesis)... and many breakfast basics have a high concentration of acid.
Although your enamel is incredibly strong, brushing acid-softened enamel will wear it down, resulting in tooth decay and discolored teeth (as the yellow layer directly below your enamel, called Dentin, gets exposed).
What effect does the food you eat have?
Some foods are good for your taste buds, some foods are good for your mouth…, but it is possible to get you a breakfast that can achieve both.
Foods high in calcium are better for, and more gentle on, your teeth, including yogurts, cheeses, and chia seeds. If you’re looking to give the health of your gums a lil boost, vitamin A and C will treat them right. Plenty of fruits and vegetables are high in vitamins and minerals, but they can also be highly acidic. Fruits like lime, orange, and lemon are also high in citric acid which erodes the tooth enamel. The process of stripping enamel is called demineralization, and a weakened enamel can cause sensitivity and pain. So for breakfast, eat food that is good for your teeth. If you want to eat acidic food, it should be accompanied by drinking water, or diluted in non-acidic foods like yogurt.
In terms of fruit/vegetable and yogurt smoothies, they’re one of the best ways to achieve the perfect healthy body and healthy teeth balance, which is why we teamed up with Daily Harvest (who’s Carrot + Chia Glow smoothie is a personal fave of mine) to bring you this AM upgrade.
Isn't skipping brushing / breakfast easier!?
Brushing your teeth and eating breakfast are non-negotiables, just like watching 30 minutes of TikTok before finally getting out of bed.
Brushing your teeth in the morning is important because it resets your mouth for the day’s foods and removes the harmful bacteria that grows in your mouth overnight. This bacteria causes morning breath and turns sugar into acid (that’s why sugar is bad for your teeth). Brushing in the morning makes sure your teeth wake up on the right side of clean, ensuring long-lasting health (so long as you’re also brushing at night, of course - something we tried to make less of a chore with the super silent and sensitive vibrations of quip) for a long, healthy life.
And skipping breakfast? Also not a healthy option. According to Jessica Young, Head of Product at Daily Harvest, your first bites of the day have a big impact on your metabolism for the rest of your day. Skipping breakfast can also have larger repercussions for your heart. A study that appeared in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology revealed that it leads to plaque buildup in the arteries.
But healthy breakfast food doesn’t need to take an age to prepare, “Smoothies and breakfast bowls, like those we make at Daily harvest, are ideal for the morning not only because they are light, filled with nutrients and gentle on teeth, but because they take no time at all to prep.”
So, before or after - What's the answer?
In short, you should definitely brush before breakfast. We recommend waking up, taking a big gulp of water, then brushing right before doing anything else.
As to the question of how long to wait after eating to brush your teeth? The American Dental Association recommends holding off until at least 30 minutes after you finished your meal (ideally 60 minutes if you’ve had some acidic, like lemons, grapefruit, or soda). This gives your enamel the time it needs to chill out before being brushed.
Of course, you should use the right toothbrush with the right toothpaste. If you are allergic to (or choose to avoid) fluoride in your toothpaste, there are other types that don't contain it. That said, fluoride is a trusted, dentist-recommended ingredient that's a must for most of us. When in doubt, look for a toothpaste with a seal from the ADA, like quip Anticavity Toothpaste. As long as you’re brushing two minutes, twice a day and flossing regularly, you'll be on the right track for healthy teeth.
Happy brushing and breakfast-ing (in that order)!