Can You Get Away With Not Brushing Your Teeth At Night
A dentist explains whether you can get away with skipping this step every once in a while.
The Situation: You’re a busy person with a full-time job, a family, and a yard that doesn’t mow itself.
So every once in a while, you fall into bed exhausted.
By the time you start to drift off, you remember you haven’t brushed your teeth.
What You’re Worried About: Is that fuzzy stuff growing on my teeth going to give me gum disease? Are all my teeth going to fall out?
The Worst That Could Possibly Happen: Yep, gum disease! The first sign is gums that bleed when you brush or floss, says Keith Arbeitman, DDS, of Arbeitman & Shein Dentistry in Manhattan.
Skipping your second brush time means the breakfast, lunch, dinner, and random snacks you had throughout the day stick around on and between your teeth.
“If you had a candy bar or even some raisins before you went to bed, that sticky sugar is like a gift to the bacteria in your teeth, ” Dr. Arbeitman says. “And you’re just letting that bacteria feast on your teeth all night.”
If you do end up with gum disease, Dr. Arbeitman says, it’s possible that you’ll eventually lose your teeth and have to consider (very expensive) implants.
What’s Probably Going to Happen: As long as you brush at least once a day, there’s only a slim chance you’d end up with full-blown gum disease, Dr. Arbeitman says.
The buildup of plaque that causes gum disease takes at least 24 hours to develop, so if you’re brushing once a day, you’ll disrupt the bacteria before it gets a chance to really screw up your gums.
BUT: Cavities are pretty much a definite—especially if you’re only brushing in the morning.
If you get a cavity, you can get it filled, sure, but fillings don’t last forever. They’ll eventually need to be refilled, and each time they do a dentist will have to drill more of the tooth away.
At some point, you’ll have to get the tooth capped. “It adds up to pretty expensive stuff that could generally be prevented,” Dr. Arbeitman says.
And let’s not forget: Your breath will smell really bad. Even if you try to cover it up with gum and mints, not brushing your teeth lets bacteria multiply inside your mouth, eventually leading to a buildup of fuzzy, foul-smelling plaque.
The article What Really Happens When Your Only Brush Your Teeth Once A Day? originally ran on Prevention.com.