The American Dental Association has long recommended that you brush your teeth twice per day for a full 2 minutes both times. But what these guidelines don’t recommend is when, exactly, to do your brushing.

For the sake of establishing a regular brushing habit, many people brush their teeth at the same time each day. Brushing every morning and again at night before bedtime seems to be the standard for most people. This simple schedule builds brushing into a routine.

But what if you’ve been brushing your teeth at the wrong part of your morning routine?

Some experts say brushing before you eat breakfast is vastly more beneficial for your tooth enamel and overall oral health.

While nobody wants to drink their morning orange juice when they still have the taste of fluoride in their mouth, it’s possible that the best thing for your teeth may be to do just that.

This article will look into the claim that brushing your teeth as soon as you wake up, instead of after breakfast, is better for your teeth.

There may actually be a scientific answer to this question. While you sleep, plaque-causing bacteria in your mouth multiply. That’s part of why you may wake up with a “mossy” taste in your mouth and “morning breath.”

Washing those bacteria right out with a fluoride toothpaste rids your teeth of plaque and bacteria. It also coats your enamel with a protective barrier against acid in your food.

According to Mayo Clinic, you should avoid brushing your teeth after eating for at least 30 minutes if you consume something acidic. Breakfast foods and drinks, such as toast, citrus, and coffee, tend to fit the criteria for acidic food.

When you brush first thing in the morning, you also jump-start your saliva production.

One small study of 21 older adults showed that after brushing, study participants saw their saliva production jump for up to 5 minutes. Your saliva helps your food break down and naturally kills harmful bacteria in your mouth.

If it works better for your morning routine to brush after breakfast, you can still do so — but you may need to keep some information in mind.

Brushing your teeth immediately after eating breakfast may actually cover your teeth with remnants of acidic food, which weakens your enamel. Breakfast favorites are some of the worst foods for your tooth enamel, including:

  • orange juice
  • citrus fruit
  • dried fruit
  • bread
  • pastries

So, brushing may be particularly bad for your teeth right after breakfast.

Waiting between 30 minutes to an hour after eating to brush your teeth is the best way to be sure that you’re protecting your teeth and not tampering with your enamel.

The American Dental Association recommends you wait 60 minutes after eating before you brush, especially after having acidic foods.

Drink water or chew some sugar-free gum after eating to clean your teeth before you brush.

Brushing your teeth properly is as important as (if not more important) than when you brush.

Whether you’re using an electric toothbrush or a standard plastic-handled toothbrush with nylon bristles, you can follow the steps below:

  1. Wet your brush head with a small amount of water to lubricate it. Add a small amount of fluoride toothpaste, about the size of a pea.
  2. Brush your teeth at an angle so you can get hard-to-reach spots. Brush for 2 minutes, making sure you’re brushing your front teeth, the sides of your teeth, and the chewing surface of your teeth.
  3. Brush your tongue to brush off any bacterial residue that has gotten on your tongue during the brushing process.
  4. Spit out any leftover toothpaste and rinse your mouth and tongue with water.

When you’re looking to protect your tooth enamel, brushing right after you wake up in the morning is better than brushing your teeth after breakfast.

If you have to brush your teeth after breakfast, try to wait between 30 and 60 minutes before you brush.

Brushing in the morning, whenever you’re able to do it, is still better than skipping the step of brushing your teeth at all.