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Should You Brush Teeth Before or After Coffee?

brush your teeth before coffee

There’s new science out on coffee, and this one’s a doozy. Many of us can hardly pry our eyes open before that first cup of coffee, but there’s new dental advice saying that you probably should.

According to reporting by the HuffPost, the classic 9 out of 10 dentists agree: you should brush your teeth before you drink your first cup of coffee. It won’t improve the flavor of your favorite drink, but it will protect your teeth!

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Coffee and Teeth: What Not to Do

The worst thing you can do for your teeth? Brush them right after drinking coffee! This seems counterintuitive — coffee stains your teeth, so you want to wash it off as soon as possible — but it turns out that brushing too soon can damage the enamel in your teeth.

death by coffee caffeine overdose
Image: beerblur, Shutterstock

The science behind this is that coffee is acidic, so it slightly weakens your teeth. That creates an abrasive environment in your mouth. When you brush your teeth, you’re wearing them down by brushing more acid onto them. Since they’re already slightly weakened, the enamel wears down faster — something you certainly want to avoid.

Instead, Brush Your Teeth Before Coffee

So when is the best time to brush your teeth? From a dental perspective, it’s before you drink coffee. Doing that gets rid of the plaque that built up overnight — which is something that coffee latches onto, increasing its staining power.

happy smiling coffee

If you’re not willing to change your routine that much, dentists have more advice for you: wait before you brush. Dentists recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after finishing your last cup of coffee before brushing your teeth. This gives your mouth time to balance out the acidity, reducing that dreaded abrasive environment and helping protect your teeth.

Won’t this affect your coffee’s flavor?

Unfortunately, this will absolutely affect your coffee experience. If you’ve ever brushed your teeth and then had a cup of orange juice, you know how much toothpaste changes your taste buds. It’s a cleanser, but it’s not exactly a palate cleanser!

how to fall asleep after drinking coffee

So what can you do to make sure you’re still enjoying the delicate flavors of a gourmet Geisha bean or Burundi blend? Don’t go straight from the toothpaste to your cup of coffee. Try waiting 20 or 30 minutes between these rituals. In the meantime, you could have a piece of toast or drink some water to bring your palate back to normal. Then enjoy your java — coffee breath be damned!

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Final Thoughts

Like many things doctors tell us, this isn’t what we want to hear (though they do say that coffee is full of health benefits, which we love to hear!). But if you want to protect your teeth, you may want to start brushing your teeth first thing, before you start sipping that tasty brew. If you don’t want to do that, dentists recommend waiting at least 30 minutes after drinking coffee before brushing your teeth. Just what your morning ritual needed: lengthening!

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Featured image credit: Try_my_best, Shutterstock

Kate MacDonnell

Kate is a lifelong coffee enthusiast and homebrewer who enjoys writing for coffee websites and sampling every kind of coffee known to man. She’s tried unusual coffees from all over the world and owns an unhealthy amount of coffee gear.

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