I'm a dentist – here's how you're brushing your teeth all wrong

I’m a dentist – here’s how you’re brushing your teeth all wrong

  • It is a myth that you should brush your teeth after you have eaten breakfast 
  • Dr Alan Clarke and Dr Sam Jethwa revealed why you should brush before brekkie
  • READ MORE: 11m Brits were unable to get an NHS dentist appointment last year 

It’s a much followed routine that is thought to be best for your teeth. 

But brushing your teeth after eating your breakfast is wrong, dentists have revealed.

In fact, brushing your teeth before having your first meal of the day actually protects them best.

From shielding the teeth from bacteria to fresh breath, brushing before breakfast is a must, according to Dr Sam Jethwa, vice president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, and Dr Alan Clarke, lead dentist at Belfast clinic Paste Dental.

It’s a much followed routine that is thought to be best for your teeth but brushing your teeth after eating your breakfast is wrong, dentists have revealed (stock image)

Brushing first thing helps the body fight off bacteria that has grown during the night.

Dr Jethwa said that as you sleep, the bacteria in your mouth multiplies and it’s this bacteria that causes plaque.

When plaque builds up on your teeth, it eats away the enamel, causing cavities and decay, so preventing this is key. 

‘Brushing your teeth before breakfast not only helps to remove this accumulation of plaque from your teeth, but it also gets your saliva production working,’ Dr Jethwa said.

‘And saliva also helps to kill bacteria in your mouth.’

READ MORE:  Crisis in NHS dentistry leaving thousands of elderly care home residents unable to get appointments leaving many in excruciating pain and unable to eat, regulator warns

Reduces acidic impact of food on teeth

When you eat, the bacteria in your mouth breaks down the food and produces acid, according to Dr Clarke.

Eating breakfast and drinking coffee or fruit juice effectively feeds these bacteria sugar, which forms an acid and can attack the tooth’s enamel. 

‘Brushing before breakfast helps to remove this bacteria and the acidic environment that can harm tooth enamel,’ Dr Clarke said.

He said if you if you have orange juice at breakfast and brush straight after, you are actually brushing and flossing the acid from both the bacteria and orange juice in between your teeth.

This acid can weaken tooth enamel causing tooth wear and sensitivity, so experts suggest you wait at least 30 minutes after eating to brush your teeth.

Dr Jethwa said: ‘If you brush too soon after consuming these you can cause further damage to the tooth enamel at a time when it is weak and vulnerable.’

Fresh breath 

Morning breath is a frustration many people will have experienced.

And it is caused by the bacteria that has multiplied in your mouth overnight. 

Saliva is responsible for flushing out odour-causing particles but saliva production decreases while you’re sleeping your mouth dry.

This leaves you with a build-up of the bacteria which gives off an unpleasant aroma. 

Dr Clarke said: ‘Brushing before breakfast can help eliminate bad breath caused by bacteria in the mouth. 

‘This is especially important if you plan to interact with others early in the day, your partner will thank you.’

Better food taste 

If you have ever drank orange juice after brushing your teeth you may disagree.

But some experts say brushing before breakfast can actually make your food taste better.

According to Dr Clarke, this is because brushing helps to remove the lingering flavours and bacteria from your mouth, which can interfere with the taste of your breakfast. 

But this is disputed as other experts say surfactants (foaming agents) found in toothpaste can suppress taste buds.

It is suggested these chemicals can make food taste more bland as they suppress the receptors that pick up sweet tastes in food, according to Colgate.

They can also enhance bitter flavours, making sour food and drinks taste more intense – such as orange juice. 

And as orange juice has a combination of sweet and bitter flavours, surfactants throw this balance off.

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