Is It Better to Brush Your Teeth Before You Eat?

Posted on: 28 April 2016

Although it may make sense to brush your teeth after you eat to clean food off your teeth, there may be some benefits to switching to brushing before you have a meal. What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pre-meal rather than a post-meal brushing session?

The Advantages of Brushing Before Eating

While cleaning your teeth before you mess them up with food may seem counterintuitive, brushing before a meal does have some dental health benefits. For example, brushing before a meal helps to remove the plaque that has built up in your mouth since you last cleaned your teeth. This may minimise the harmful effects that food can have on your teeth.

For example, the plaque in your mouth reacts to the stuff you eat to produce acids that may damage your teeth by causing problems such as tooth decay. If you get rid of this plaque by brushing before you eat a meal, you may reduce the formation of acids in your mouth after eating. This may help protect your teeth.

Plus, brushing before a meal may prevent you from unknowingly damaging your teeth. If you eat or drink something acidic, the acid that goes on to your teeth may temporarily weaken their enamel. If you brush your teeth while your enamel is weak, you may damage it. This is why you are typically advised not to brush your teeth for an hour after eating. This delay allows the saliva in your mouth to deal with the acids.

The Disadvantages of Brushing Before Eating

While brushing before a meal has its upsides, it may also have some downsides. For example, if you don't brush your teeth after a meal, they may not look or feel clean to you. You may also give sugars and acids from the things you've eaten and drunk a foothold on your teeth and gums.

Plus, if you have food particles stuck between your teeth, they will sit there until you next brush your teeth. The bacteria in your mouth may try to break down these particles, which may make them smell bad and give you bad breath. Also, if the particles aren't removed, they may turn into plaque, which ultimately could give you problems such as decay.

How to Counteract the Downsides

If you want to brush before eating to give plaque busting a try, you can take steps to reduce the disadvantages of this new timing. For example, you can floss after a meal to dislodge food that is stuck between your teeth. You can also rinse with an antibacterial mouthwash to clean out your mouth, keep it smelling fresh and give it a boost against the bacteria that may have come into your mouth after eating.

You may also find it helpful to chew sugar-free gum after a meal. A gum is sticky enough to help remove food particles from your mouth. Chewing also creates an additional saliva flow which helps wash your teeth and gums, giving them a clean without brushing. For more information, talk to a family dentist.