In a viral Tik Tok, dentist Anna Peterson caused a recent uproar by advising us to avoid brushing after eating. And while the advice might seem counterintuitive, it seems science is in full support.
In the clip, which you can watch here, Peterson says “Did you know you shouldn’t brush your teeth after breakfast? Always before.” Continuing, she explained, “There are two reasons for this. 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.”
You may be wondering how well your breakfast will sit on your teeth until your next brushing, but Peterson provides a bit of relief by saying that “brushing before breakfast protects your teeth from anything you’re going to eat.”
Commenters on both sides left their opinions with viewers who wholeheartedly agreed and stated they already followed such advice, to others who mocked her guidance as “ridiculous.” But regardless of opinion, other experts seem to agree with Peterson.
The Mayo Clinic advises that when “choosing when to brush your teeth, you might also consider your diet. If you’ve eaten acidic food or drink, avoid brushing your teeth right away. These acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can remove the enamel.”
The American Dental Association also agrees with Peterson, by referring to brushing after eating as a “brushing habit to break in 2021.” In the list of bad brushing habits to break this year, they stated if you must brush after eating, try waiting 60 minutes, especially if you have eaten acidic foods.
And while the implications of brushing the acid into our enamel are one thing, there are other benefits to brushing before breakfast. During our sleep, the nasty little mouth germs sit on our teeth and multiply. This explains why when we wake up we have morning stank breath and may feel a yucky film in our mouths.
If you immediately brush and wash away those bacterias, it helps to prevent tooth decay and also provides us with a layer of protection against the acids in our food. Brushing first thing also helps with saliva production, as one small study found. After observing 21 older adults, the study found that participants had a jump in saliva production for up to 5 minutes. This is extremely beneficial because saliva contains enzymes that help us to start the digestive process at our first bite.
And while your morning coffee or juice may have a funky taste after brushing, it is likely better than tooth decay. This information just goes to show that sometimes it’s better to question what we’ve heard and found out for ourselves, because I know I spent my whole life hearing that we should always brush after eating.