Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?

Many of us have had the same morning routine for years and might not be eager to change it. While brushing our teeth in the morning is typical dental hygiene for most, there's a lingering debate about whether to brush before or after breakfast.

Woman brushing teeth at mirror
Credit: Getty Images / Ridofranz

Thankfully, Anna Peterson, a dental hygienist, is putting the age-old question to rest. They suggest that the correct time to brush your teeth is before you eat breakfast, which may come as a shock to those who have always done it after. According to Peterson, brushing your teeth after you've eaten breakfast can have negative long-term effects on your teeth. "When you eat breakfast your mouth becomes acidic, so what you're doing when you brush your teeth after breakfast is brushing the acid into the tooth and this wears away the enamel," Peterson explained

We spoke with Carolyn Jones, Lead Dentist at Smiles for Keeps Dental Office to confirm the news. Here's what she had to say:

"Acid found in food and drinks can have a detrimental effect on your teeth. What Anna Peterson explains in the video is correct, but needs more explanation. I believe it is best to either brush before breakfast or wait 30 minutes to an hour after breakfast to brush. This doesn't just apply to breakfast, however, this applies to any meal or snack.  After eating acidic foods, it essentially softens your teeth and you are more likely to damage the enamel when brushing.  Also make sure you are using a soft toothbrush!"

Peterson's video has been viewed a whopping 1.6 million times and is receiving praise from followers who weren't aware that they were unintentionally harming their teeth. Beyond brushing your teeth, there are several factors that can help keep your pearly whites at their best, like quitting smoking and choosing tooth-healthy foods

So, next time you wake up, help protect your teeth's enamel by brushing first thing before you reach for your morning coffee or breakfast, or waiting for a bit after breakfast to brush.