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Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?

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Medically reviewed by: Dr Shan Lam BDS (Bris)

Before or after your breakfast. When should you brush your teeth?

Should you brush your teeth before or after breakfast?

Starting the day right helps to improve your tooth and gum health

When our alarm clock goes off in the morning, making sure that we look after our teeth well is possibly the last thing on our mind, especially as the cold, dark mornings set in for autumn/winter.

The morning routine can be a stressful and hurried time of the day if we don’t leave enough time, but it is an important time for our teeth and gums, and there’s more than just when to brush your teeth to consider.

There are a number of actions that we take, or don’t take, at this time of the day that can make a big difference to how healthy our mouth is. Our Holland Park Dental Team offers a few insights into how a few small changes to our morning habits can have a positive impact on our oral health.


Start the day with water

We suggest you try to have a glass of water at your bedside and drink it when you first wake up. Many of us don’t drink enough water and doing this is a helpful start to both kick start your metabolism & aid hydration. Whilst your other morning liquid intake may consist of a pot of tea or cup of coffee, it is worth considering these can be mildly diuretic and whilst initially refreshing, can also contribute to dehydration (and contribute to stained teeth!). Keeping hydrated will increase your saliva production and subsequently help to protect your teeth from decay.

A quick word of caution: Some people encourage the addition of fresh lemon juice to the water. Whilst this offers some additional taste, it could lead to tooth damage as lemon juice is relatively acidic and potentially harmful to the enamel, especially in hot water.

Brush your teeth in the morning!

You may think that because you haven’t eaten anything overnight, cleaning your teeth in the morning is an ‘optional extra’. This is far from the case though as bacterial deposits will have collected on your teeth and in the gum pockets whilst you slept (If you’re a mouth breather, your teeth will have dried out and be lacking important protection from saliva). These bacteria are significant potential contributors to both tooth decay and gum disease and therefore, morning brushing of your teeth is vital.

Should you brush your teeth before or after you have breakfast? There are a wide range of opinions on this but we feel that you should brush your teeth and remove and lurking bacteria thats accumulated over night before your breakfast and rinse with a fluoride mouthwash before you leave the house. We know that’s not always possible so, if you need to brush your teeth after you’ve eaten – you need to try and wait between 30-60 minutes for the PH balance of your mouth to neutralise before you then brush your teeth.

Read the science of The Stephan Curve here. 

What about floss? If you’re bright eyed and bushy tailed in the morning then flossing is a great idea – but if, like lots of us, you’re tired or pushed for time – flossing in the evening, just the once a day, is also okay!

Your breakfast

Our choice of breakfast might depend on how much time we leave. Undoubtedly though, many breakfast products that are available contain very high levels of sugar which may give us a morning ‘boost’ but which also mean that you start the day with your teeth coated in sugar.

Instead of high sugar cereals or even toast and jam or honey, try a sugar free cereal if you want to eat those. Alternative suggestions include boiled or scrambled eggs, no added sugar yoghurt (and avoid the honey) and even cheese; a not too common breakfast food in the UK but commonly eaten at this time across the rest of Europe. In fact cheese not only contains calcium and other minerals which help your tooth health but also helps to balance the PH levels in your mouth which help to reduce enamel erosion.


The bad news for parents is that you need to leave even longer in the morning to make sure that your children also get off to a good start. Whether it is cartoons on the TV or the latest game on their phone, you can be sure that children will often find a way of avoiding doing what they need to do. If you have children, please make sure to supervise whilst they brush their teeth and also avoid sugary cereals.

Pack your lunch

Think “tooth friendly lunch” with your pack lunches. Too many of us rely on shop bought snacks that may be tasty and tempting but may not always be the healthiest thing for our teeth, and probably our overall health too. Taking care of what you eat at lunch as well as breakfast will definitely be healthier for your teeth and probably save you money as well.

For family, cosmetic and specialist dental care in the Kensington and Chelsea Borough of London, Holland Park Dental Centre are here to help you. You can book an appointment with us by calling on 0207 603 4155 – our friendly team is on hand to take your call! or Book Online!

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