Do You Brush Before Or After Meals?

We recently posed the question on social media: ‘which do you do first – brush your teeth or eat breakfast?’ some of our loyal followers stuck their necks out and liked the post to indicate that they ate first or commented to say they brushed first. There were definitely more ‘likes’ than ‘comments’… we’re pleased you’re all brushing your teeth but from a dental hygiene perspective we’d recommend brushing BEFORE eating.

We did some more digging into the topic to explain the reasons behind this. 

Luckily Trisha O'Hehir, a senior consulting editor of the Registered Dental Hygienist Magazine has written an interesting article on this very topic. Trisha questions the tradition of "brushing after every meal." She believes that there is a gap between research and reality, because dental professionals are concentrating on the effects of plaque, whereas everyone else is just concerned about having spinach or other bits of food stick between their teeth!

Plaque bacteria on your teeth will instantly react with food that you eat to produce acid. This acid softens your teeth enamel. The logic is that brushing your teeth before eating will remove most of the plaque, therefore less acid is produced. The problem dental professionals often see is that softened dental enamel can literally be scrubbed off when your teeth are brushed straight after eating. So we see damage to teeth, even in people who don’t eat a lot of sugar.

It’s a good idea to drink water and swill your mouth out after eating to try and dislodge any food particles. If you do brush after meals to remove food then wait at least 30 minutes for the acid levels to return to neutral.

One final thought the RDH article leaves us with is “Since soda and alcoholic drink consumption in the evening is a common practice, both in England and the United States, it makes more sense to brush when you get home from work, before having dinner, rather than after softening the enamel with acidic foods and beverages.”

Time to change your habits?

We offer regular hygiene treatments to help you manage your oral health. Suzy will be very happy to discuss this treatment with you.  You can make a reservation by using our contact form or calling 0151 236 6578.




Trisha E. O'Hehir, RDH, BS, is a senior consulting editor of RDH. She is also an international speaker, author, instrument designer, inventor, and oral health detective