The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends toothbrushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once a day. However, it’s easy to “forget” to brush your teeth. We’ve all been there. If you don’t think you’ll encounter anyone in person for the entire day, it might be tempting to skip a tooth brushing session — or two. After all, no one will be smelling your breath on a Zoom call or video chat. And perhaps you sometimes forget to brush your teeth before you sleep. That’s fine, right? You won’t be having a conversation with anyone while you snore. No harm, no foul. Well, actually, it’s pretty foul.
Your dentist might harp on you to floss and brush, but there are good reasons why they do. Cleaning your teeth gets rid of more than the remnants of your day’s pizza or popcorn; it removes harmful bacteria. The ramifications of skipping a session or two of brushing boil down to more than just stinky breath. It can impact your overall health.
10. It Can Lead to Bad Breath
Halitosis, otherwise known as bad breath, typically begins in the mouth. When you don’t brush your teeth well, food particles collect on the surface of the tongue and gums. Oral bacteria feast on the leftover food in the mouth, producing chemicals that cause bad breath. When you don’t brush your teeth at least twice a day, the food you eat becomes food for the bacteria in your mouth, resulting in halitosis.
9. Enamel Erosion
Failure to brush your teeth twice a day can lead to enamel erosion. Enamel is the outer layer of your tooth that protects it from daily wear and tear. It’s the teeth’s armor, protecting them from chipping, cracking, and feeling pain. If you drink a lot of carbonated soft drinks and sugary juices, sticking to the recommended two times a day tooth brushing schedule is a must. Soft drinks, sports drinks, and juices are all associated with enamel erosion. When enamel erosion occurs, the teeth appear discolored and can become hypersensitive and prone to cavities. Brushing teeth helps to rid the mouth of the harmful acids in sugary drinks, keeping teeth strong.
8. Plaque Builds Up
When you don’t brush your teeth at least twice a day, the bacteria in your mouth mixes with proteins and food, creating plaque buildup. This sticky gunk covers teeth and fillings, gets beneath the gums, and sticks to dental work. The plaque then hardens into tartar, which harms the gums and leads to gum disease.
7. Skipping Leads to Gum Inflammation
Gum disease doesn’t happen overnight, but the nights you forget to brush your teeth can snowball into gingivitis. Gingivitis, also known as gum inflammation, is an early sign of gum disease. Gingivitis results in redness, swelling, tenderness, and bleeding gums. At this point, it’s important to stop the progression towards gum disease and start brushing and flossing your teeth according to your dentist’s recommendations. Otherwise, gingivitis can progress to periodontitis.
6. You Could Lost Your Teeth to Periodontitis
Periodontitis, known as periodontal disease, is the next step after gingivitis. With periodontitis, the gums recede and gum tenderness turns into pain. Teeth start to loosen and bone loss occurs. If not addressed, a mild case of periodontitis can progress to advanced periodontal disease, leading to tooth loss and severe pain when chewing food.
5. It Could Affect Your Heart
Although the ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology found that individuals who brushed their teeth at least three times a day were less likely to experience heart problems like atrial fibrillation and heart failure. An overgrowth of bad bacteria in the mouth can cause inflammation, which can trigger inflammation throughout the body — including the heart.
4. It Harms Your Body’s Cardiovascular System
The American Heart Association (AHA) follows the ADA’s recommendation of brushing teeth at least twice a day. But the AHA recommends regular tooth brushing for different reasons that the ADA. The AHA believes that research into oral health shows that toothbrushing affects the arteries of the heart and the body’s cardiovascular system. Failure to brush your teeth twice a day doesn’t just affect your oral health and your heart, it can impact your arteries. When you don’t brush your teeth, harmful bacteria grows and accumulates in the mouth. The bacteria may travel into the bloodstream, and cause inflammation. This inflammation can block arteries, leading clots and blockages throughout the body and the heart.
3. It Could Lead to Dementia
Research published in Current Neurology and Neuroscience Reports has identified a potential link between oral diseases such as periodontitis and dementia. The accumulation of bacteria and plaque caused by poor oral hygiene can cause inflammation, which can travel to the brain. Brain inflammation, originating from the mouth, might be to blame for some dementias.
2. You Could Get Pneumonia
According to research published in Nature, the bad bacteria which can grow due to poor dental hygiene can contribute to a higher incidence of pneumonia. This bacteria can be inhaled into the lungs or cause inflammation, either creating or making it more difficult to recover from pneumonia.
1. It May Result in Pregnancy Complications
Dental health is an essential part of adequate prenatal care. The bodily changes that a woman experiences during pregnancy makes her more prone to developing cavities and gum inflammation; therefore, regular and consistent tooth brushing is vital. Routine dental care helps prevent pregnancy complications and helps set the stage for a healthy birth.
There’s a battle going on in your mouth, and the bad bacteria are constantly wanting to take over. They’re a hardy and smart bunch, and they don’t give up easily. Think of your toothbrush and floss as your weapons to help keep them in check. Missing one tooth brushing session is like losing a battle, and too many battles lost can mean losing the entire oral health war. Just a few minutes, twice a day, is a win for the right team — your health.