Everyone has their own morning routine, but it’s safe to assume that a great number of these routines include a morning coffee and brushing your teeth. Or is it the other way around? The order in which you drink your morning mug matters because it could be harming your dental health. The acidity in coffee can erode tooth enamel and stain your teeth. It doesn’t mean that you have to give up your beloved morning ritual, but dentists say that it's better to brush your teeth first if you want to protect your smile.
The benefits of brushing your teeth before having your morning coffee
Coffee is known to stain teeth. Based on this fact alone, one could assume that brushing your teeth right after drinking coffee is the most efficient way to keep them clean and prevent stains. Unfortunately, this is wrong. During the night, plaque accumulates on your teeth. This is a problem, as plaque allows stains to form more easily. Brushing your teeth before you have coffee removes the plaque, which makes it more difficult for the coffee particles to grab onto your teeth and stain them.
As we mentioned, coffee is acidic. This means that brushing your teeth right after drinking it will weaken your enamel, which is the outer layer of the teeth that protects them from physical and chemical damage. By drinking coffee before brushing your teeth, you are essentially brushing more acid onto your teeth, which breaks down the enamel faster and makes your teeth more vulnerable to damage and cavities. “You don’t want to be brushing when your environment is acidic, it’s chemically abrasive,” explained Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist at New York City’s Dental House.
According to Krasilnikov and other dental experts, the best course of action is to thoroughly brush your teeth first thing in the morning, then have a cup of coffee, and finally, rinse your mouth with water to neutralize the acidity in your mouth.
How to protect your teeth if you drank coffee before brushing them
If you did end up having your coffee before brushing your teeth, there are a few things you can do to minimize the damage and restore the fresh feeling in your mouth. Firstly, dentists recommend waiting for at least half an hour between drinking coffee and brushing your teeth. This allows the pH level in your mouth to become less acidic and be restored to its normal, neutral state. After 30 minutes of waiting, brushing your teeth will be perfectly safe.
You can also use sugar-free gum to speed up the process. Chewing stimulates the production of saliva, the agent that helps restore the pH level in your mouth. According to Christina Meiners, a dentist at the nonprofit CommuniCare Health Centers in San Antonio, “Saliva acts as a buffer in that acidic environment.”
In the meantime, you can still rinse your mouth with plain water to wash out the coffee taste and follow with flossing. This should refresh your breath and give you that clean feeling.
Keep in mind that there’s no reason to worry if you mixed up the order and had your coffee first one morning. One slip-up will not cause much damage, just make sure not to turn it into a habit.
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