Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeFood & DrinkEat Dessert First for Healthier Teeth

Eat Dessert First for Healthier Teeth

Remember how your parents always made you eat your vegetables first before you could eat your dessert?  That may not have been the best thing for your teeth.

Here’s a story to illustrate this point:

Eat Dessert First for Better TeethLet’s say you go out to the Olive Garden for some great Italian food.  After dinner, you order some Black Tie Chocolate Mousse Cake.  As you eat the cake, the crust gets packed down into the grooves on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth and some might even get stuck in between your teeth.  Depending on how much saliva you have — and you might not have very much —  it could take over half an hour to wash away this sugary treat from your mouth!  That means that your teeth could be exposed to harmful substances and their byproducts for over an hour.

Click here to see a graph of what happens to your teeth every time you eat.

Now, suppose you had the cake first, and then ate a salad.  The chewing action of the lettuce leaves would easily be able to wash away the cake, and your mouth would be free from the high concentration of sugar much more quickly.  This is one reason that dental experts recommend eating sugar with meals.  It’s also why I wrote about how it’s better to drink soda pop when you eat a meal.

Do You Need to Eat Dessert First for Healthy Teeth?

CakeNo, you don’t need to eat dessert before your regular meal and there are reasons not to, such as the possibility of spoiling your dinner.  If you don’t want to eat dessert first, you might try drinking some water or anything non-sugary to get that sugar off of your teeth.

I realize that one of the main reasons people choose to have dessert after their dinner is to avoid filling up on empty calories or overeating something that should be eaten in small quantities.  These are both excellent reasons to wait on dessert, or even skip it altogether.  After all, there are health risks associated with being overweight and eating the wrong types of foods as well.  So, if you prefer to eat your dessert after dinner, you could always select a healthier dessert that won’t cause sugar to hang around in your mouth for a long time, such as fresh fruit.  You could also eat something that would aid in mechanically removing the dessert from your teeth, such as cheese or one of these foods.


You don’t necessarily need to eat dessert first.  My point in writing this was to let you know that what matters for your teeth is the order in which you eat your food.  If you eat sugar, it’s a good idea to wash it away with some other food rather than letting it sit on your teeth.

As I was writing this, my wife came up to the computer and said “Another one on food!?”

Looking back through the Food & Drink category, I realize that I probably have written a lot about how food affects your teeth.  What can I say… I like food.  In order to keep this blog more exciting, I’ll be moving on to other dental topics.  If you have any ideas for future articles, feel free to let me know.

Thanks for reading!



  1. Interesting post.

    I once remember reading something about eating salad, fruit or vegetable first, because meat takes longer time to be digested and by eating meat with other foods, food can ferment inside your stomach instead of being digested.

    How can eating other food wash away sugar, when fruit contains sugar and fruit acids which can also cause damage to teeth?

    Just wondering…

    • Hi Shirly – Thanks for your comment! Meat does take a long time to digest, other foods can be digested quite quickly.

      Eating other foods washes away sugar because the food rubs against your teeth while you chew and can help remove any sugar that has become stuck to your teeth (like crumbs from cheesecake crust getting stuck in your back teeth). Another way that eating helps wash away sugar is that when you eat, you make a lot of saliva that helps rinse away excess sugar.

      Fruit does contain acid and sugar, but it also contains rough, fibrous material. When you chew on a fibrous piece of fruit, such as an apple, it stimulates your salivary glands enough that you produce sufficient saliva to help counter the effects of the sugar in the fruit. This only applies to fresh fruit – If you want to read more on that topic, you can read my article about whether fruit is good or bad for your teeth.

      I hope that helps – Thanks for your comment, Shirly!

  2. HI Tom

    I love your website… I’ve learned SO much juicy tid-bits already! We don’t generally get all this information from your dentist during checkups(about how/what to eat), and there are many sites out there that give out advice that seems unreliable/uncredible. Thank you bundling all this useful info together in a very fun to read/educational format!

    BTW: Keep the articles of food and drink coming!! I personally find they are the best part, since what we have in common is we ALL eat and drink, and its better to be educated abou this now, then to not know and have problems later, and say “Oopsies..I wish someone had told me this before…”

    Prevention is key… 🙂

    Have a great day

    • Thanks for the kind words, T. It does seem like there are a lot of sites out there trying to sell the latest dental gadget and providing misleading dental health information. One of the reasons I started Oral Answers was to provide a reliable source of dental health information. I try to cite my sources and try to use only credible, evidence-based scientific papers. I’m glad you like it!

      I’ll try to get some more food/drink articles in the future. I have my wife proof-read most of the articles before they get published so I’ll take a small break for her sanity 🙂

      Prevention is definitely a lot better than treatment. You have a great day, too. Thanks for your comment!


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