Why is it so gross to skip brushing my teeth at night?

Categories: Oral Hygiene

Q: Exactly how gross is it if I forget to brush my teeth before bed every once in a while (or habitually)?

Gross Teeth

A: Good News:

You just got 2 min extra sleep and have time-travelled into the future and saved on toothpaste and water. You’re a natural born conservationist.

A: Bad News:

You want a kiss in the morning? You want to kiss someone like this in the morning, or even smell their breath? It’s pretty gross. Forget it! No one’s coming close to you. You might not know that the American Dental Association (ADA) recommends brushing twice a day. You also probably don’t realize that not brushing your teeth is one of the easiest ways to scare off your date in the morning, or to find a blog post about your bad breath 2 days later featuring a brilliant photo of your awful bed hair along with a healthy list of other complaints about your character, downfalls, quirks and misguided political opinions.

Brush your teeth at night, and all else is forgiven.

Q: But why do I really need to brush my teeth all the time?

Diligent brushing is important for many reasons beyond the scope of social stigma and consequences of bad breath. Skip brushing, and you’re on your way to owning a fine set of yellow teeth and running your own bacteria farm in the form of plaque build-up, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.

“Any time of the day, feel your teeth with your tongue around your gum line, and you’ll find something that feels sticky or gross,” says Dr. Perlaza, DDS, a dentist in Sherman Oaks, CA.  “That’s plaque. In some cases, with heavy soda drinkers or candy eaters, you can just clamp or slide your teeth together, and when you release them you can feel resistance as if they’re sticky all over. Well, they are! It’s time to start brushing and visit your dentist to get the tartar and plaque removed with a professional cleaning.”

Fortunately, brushing your teeth can help keep the bacteria at bay and reduce the build-up of plaque during the day and night. Plus, the longer that plaque sits in one place, and the longer that bacteria burns sugars on the surface of your teeth, the more likely it is to become tooth-yellowing tartar, the rough material you can feel in between your teeth and along the gum line which also causes inflammation and bleeding of the gums. Besides the risk of cavities, you could lose your teeth if you let that continue.

Don’t skimp on tooth brushing twice daily.  A good routine is no joke, and won’t be effective if you don’t do it right. You need to use a soft-bristled brush. Tooth brushing should last about two minutes and you should attend to all tooth surfaces, not just the parts we see when you smile. Don’t forget to also first floss your teeth: The ADA recommends flossing at least once a day and visiting a dentist regularly to make sure your teeth are taken care of. For most people only a dentist can truly clean your teeth and remove all tartar.

Don’t think of putting off tooth brushing with replacements. They’re not replacements at all. Though using gum, mouthwash, and mint spray might make you feel like you have a fresh, clean mouth, “a regiment of good brushing and frequent flossing are truly the only ways to effectively and physically remove plaque and prevent tartar buildup leading to cavities and tooth loss.”

Dr. Harold Perlaza is a dentist with a friendly, thriving, modern dental practice located in Sherman Oaks, CA on Van Nuys Blvd. He has been helping people improve oral health and keep their smile shining for over 20 years, while also teaching at UCLA in Westwood, CA.