A Great Debate: Should You Brush Your Teeth As Soon As You Wake Up or After Eating Breakfast?

Many people know that dirty, plaque covered gums and teeth can equal major oral problems. That’s why it’s so important to brush your teeth twice a day. All the major dental associations and many experts on the topic are very vague as to exactly when in the morning the first brushing of the day should take place. Should we brush as soon as we wake up or wait until after we’ve finished eating breakfast? Search health forums and you’ll find a plethora of answers with all their justifications:

Apple with a toothbrush isolated on white

“Wait until after you eat breakfast. When you brush your teeth it is important not to eat for at least 30 minutes afterwards to allow the fluoride from the toothpaste to soak into your teeth.” Dr. Barbara Szylkarski, Australia

“I asked this same question recently to a dentist. It probably won’t make much difference if you eat breakfast immediately after waking up, but it’s actually best to brush your teeth as the first thing you do in the morning and before breakfast. You salivate less while you’re asleep, and the time you spend asleep is ideal for bacteria to multiply and produce plaque. You’ll benefit the most by getting rid of that plaque as soon as possible and before you introduce more food into your mouth for the bacteria to feed on.” ~User crono09, Reddit.com

“Bacterial biofilms in your mouth have been maturing overnight in a reduced saliva environment gearing up for sugars in the morning. Clearing bacteria out before the introduction of food makes far more sense than brushing after they have already soaked up sugars to produce acids that cause cavities.” ~ Scott Frey, Board Certified Orthodontist of freysmiles.com.

So what is the right answer? Well, that all depends on what you’re focus is. Most consumers think in terms of two things: removing food and the taste and smell of your mouth afterwards. When discussing the traditional “brush after every meal” suggestion, we find that the average person has been taught that this is important to remove food particles and keep breathe fresh for the day. Another argument that brushing prior to eating will make the mouth taste funny, especially the breakfast favorite orange juice when it’s mixed with toothpaste.

More about toothpaste here.

Alternatively, dental care professionals and others familiar with the oral cavity at a microscopic level know that it’s not so much food particles as plaque which needs removal to ensure top oral health. These professionals care about the overall environment that the sugars in foods are being introduced to and how quickly they will become damaging to the mouth.

There is even a gray area when it comes to discussing the oral care of your mouth upon awakening. These suggestions include rinsing the mouth with water before breakfast and brushing afterward, brushing before breakfast and using a fluoride rinse after you eat, and even brushing twice! These suggestions also take into account whether a person eats immediately upon waking or waits an hour, as well as how long it takes for biofilm to cover the oral structures. Another concern is that toothpaste softens up tooth enamel and makes it vulnerable to the food you’d eat at breakfast. With so many suggestions and no clear answer, it’s hard to know what to do each morning.

The bottom line is that your mouth needs to stay clean, fresh, and plaque-free. So it’s wise to discuss your morning routine with your dentist and decide what will be the best option for your optimum oral health.

About Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.

Dr. Mark Marchbanks has practiced dentistry in Arlington Texas since 1983. He enjoys caring for patients young and old. You can find Dr. Marchbanks on If it's been more than 6 months since your last teeth cleaning, give us a call today to schedule your check-up.

Mark C. Marchbanks, D.D.S.
2624 Matlock Road Suite 100 Arlington, Texas 76015
Phone: (817) 261-2747 URL of Map