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Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Coffee?

Should You Brush Your Teeth Before or After Your Morning Coffee?

Your alarm sounds, you roll out of bed and, if you’re like a lot of people, one of the first things you do is enjoy a cup of coffee (or two). And while coffee smells and tastes amazing when it’s straight from your mug in the morning, the same doesn’t hold true when it comes to your breath. So, understandably, your natural instinct might be to brush your teeth after having your coffee to ensure your mouth is fresh and clean as you go about your day. But there’s some debate about whether or not this is the right move. Well, the team at Naperville Dental Specialists is here to help. We’ll be weighing in on whether you should brush your teeth before or after coffee.

Should I Brush My Teeth Before or After Coffee?

Drumroll please….you should brush your teeth before having coffee, according to our Naperville dentists. We know, we know, it feels like that goes against all logic. After all, doesn’t coffee stain teeth? Won’t you be stuck with coffee breath? 

Yes, coffee does stain teeth and, sure, it can cause bad breath. However, there are two main reasons behind the recommendation for brushing your teeth before coffee:

  • Brushing your teeth eliminates plaque and gives your teeth a smooth surface. This makes it more difficult for the liquid to adhere to your enamel, which will prevent or reduce coffee stains on your teeth. It will also make lifting any superficial stains easier when you brush later. 
  • Coffee is acidic. Whenever you eat or drink something acidic, including coffee, it leaves your enamel vulnerable for about 30 to 60 minutes until your saliva neutralizes the acidity and the pH in your mouth returns to normal. If you brush when your enamel is temporarily weakened, it can cause erosion. As your enamel erodes, the underlying dentin becomes exposed. This can lead to tooth sensitivity, increase your risk of cavities and make your teeth look yellow. 

Wait, is coffee bad for your teeth?

The good news is, coffee (as long as you’re not adding sugar) doesn’t directly cause tooth decay and it’s no worse than any other drink that’s not water. However, the acidity, especially if you consistently brush your teeth right after your coffee, can eventually lead to enamel erosion, which will make you more susceptible to sensitivity and decay. Aside from the acid, coffee stains teeth too. It’s pigmented and, over time, it’s notorious for causing discoloration. 

But, overall, coffee may actually have some beneficial properties that can boost your oral health. For example, a 2009 study published in the Journal of Conservative Dentistry found that black coffee without any additives like sugar or cream helped prevent cavities thanks to its antibacterial effect. It’s thought the polyphenols in coffee are responsible for zapping bacteria. The bottom line: stick with black coffee and hold off on brushing your teeth afterwards. As long as you maintain good oral hygiene, you should be perfectly fine drinking it. 

brush your teeth before or after coffee

How Can I Prevent Coffee Breath and ‘Stains While Keeping My Enamel Safe?

Thoroughly rinsing your mouth with water after having a cup of coffee will go a long way in warding off coffee breath, keeping stains at bay and giving your mouth a clean sensation. Even better, rinse your mouth and then chew a piece of sugarless gum. (Bonus points if the gum contains xylitol since xylitol prevents bacteria buildup.) Chewing sugarless gum after any meal or beverage is a good practice for getting your saliva flowing and helping to prevent cavities. Having a piece after coffee has the added benefit of freshening your breath. 

If you drink a lot of coffee and other acidic beverages, you might also want to consider using a toothpaste for sensitive teeth that contains fluoride. The fluoride will help to remineralize your teeth and strengthen your enamel. Ingredients like potassium nitrate and stannous fluoride will reduce sensitivity by shielding the dentin and soothing the nerves inside of your teeth. 

The other thing to keep in mind is that the debate about whether you should brush your teeth before or after coffee refers to brushing soon after drinking it. The American Dental Association recommends waiting 60 minutes after eating or drinking before brushing your teeth. So, if you’re not in a rush, you can wait an hour until your oral pH is back to normal and then brush your teeth without any negative effects. 

Schedule a Visit With a Naperville Dentist Today

Do you have more questions about your oral health? Schedule a visit with a Naperville dentist today. We can fill you in on everything you need to know about caring for your teeth and gums, including how to develop a smile-friendly morning routine. If you’ve been brushing right after your coffee for years and now have sensitivity or discoloration, we can help with that too! 

Dr. Anthony LaVacca

Author Dr. Anthony LaVacca

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