In Singapore, most people seem to brush their teeth first thing in the morning after they wake up, and the last thing before they sleep. However, take a quick search on google, you will find thousands of articles telling you to only brush your teeth after meals. In other countries such as Japan and the US, brushing teeth after every meal is also common practice.
So which is right — before or after eating?
Here’s the truth:
You’re better off brushing before you eat, or wait at least 30 minutes after you eat.
(I hear Singaporeans going “YESSSSS!!” and to be honest, I was a little relieved myself.)
But why is there such a debate to start with? It all started from a common misconception that we brush teeth to remove excess food stuck in our teeth. We don’t. The reason why we brush our teeth is to remove plaques. To be exact, we brush our teeth to prevent acid production, which happens when plague touches carbohydrate (to put it simply, our nom noms).
So by removing the plaque thoroughly before eating is a good prevention measure. In addition, plaque bacteria produce acid within seconds exposure to food, so no, brushing after meals is (I’m sad to say) too late…
Why wait for 30 minutes?
The acid softens the tooth surface and make it more susceptible to erosion and toothpaste abrasion. Even brushing without toothpaste can result in loss of enamel and dentin!
How about brushing our teeth before sleep?
Research is saying that… brushing before going to bed may be a convenient tradition, but it is unsure what that achieves other than simply removing acid softened enamel or dentin. According to dentists, it makes more sense to brush when you get home from work and before having dinner. (Damn.)
Seems like we have to make a small change to our daily routine… but to be honest, i can’t imagine my life without brushing my teeth before bed.
Or is it just me — do you guys brush teeth before your meals? Let me know!