What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth?
We’re all told to brush our teeth at least daily, preferably multiple times daily. But what happens if you don’t do it?
You should understand that brushing your teeth is not some arbitrary recommendation; if you’re not consistent in your oral health hygiene, it can have devastating consequences.
Let’s take a look at the mechanics of these repercussions.
The Long-Term View
Brushing your teeth serves several purposes simultaneously. Using a soft-bristled brush and a bit of toothpaste, you can remove stubborn food particles from your teeth before they break down. Even more importantly, brushing removes a sticky substance known as plaque from the surfaces of your teeth, preventing it from encouraging bacteria buildup. Brushing your teeth also disrupts bacterial colonies, so they can’t influence tooth decay.
If you don’t brush your teeth regularly, the plaque on your teeth will gradually build up and harden. It can combine with the minerals in your saliva to become a more complex and difficult-to-remove substance known as tartar. These substances make it easy for bacteria to flourish, and these bacteria produce substances that lead to tooth decay.
When combined, cessation of tooth brushing can lead to the following:
- Bad breath. You’ll probably not lose teeth if you only miss a single brushing session, but you can feel the effects of stopping brushing almost immediately. One of the best and most immediate incentives for brushing your teeth is keeping your breath fresh and healthy; if you skip a tooth brushing session, people might start avoiding them.
- Discomfort. For many people, brushing teeth is necessary to feel clean and healthy. If you don’t brush your teeth, you may feel an unpleasant texture on your teeth, or you may otherwise be uncomfortable with the state of your mouth.
- Cavities. If you skip multiple brushing sessions, you’ll eventually have to deal with the buildup of plaque and bacteria, which can cause cavities. If you catch these cavities early enough, you may be able to fill them before they present any real problems. However, cavity fillings can also be an uncomfortable and expensive procedure. If you fail to catch these cavities, they can grow worse, eventually infecting the root of your tooth and requiring you to have a root canal procedure done (or have the tooth removed).
- Tooth loss. In extreme cases, your decaying teeth may not be salvageable. If you allow your oral health to decline to this point, you could quickly lose multiple teeth. Dental implants in Milwaukee could be a suitable replacement, giving you artificial substitutes that look and feel like natural teeth – but it’s best to avoid this option unless it’s indispensable.
- Gum disease. Gingivitis, periodontitis, and other forms of gum disease can also set in if you neglect your oral health. These problems are even worse if you also skip flossing.
- Dementia. Some evidence suggests that poor oral hygiene is associated with dementia. If you stop brushing your teeth or are inconsistent with oral care, you may be at higher risk for cognitive decline.
- Heart disease. According to some research, people who brush their teeth are at lower risk for heart disease and various cardiovascular complications. The root causes of this relationship are still somewhat unclear.
What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth: Step by Step
What exactly happens when you stop brushing your teeth?
- After a single day. The plaque on your teeth can begin decalcifying the protective substance underneath the enamel of your teeth in less than two days. Gradually, plaque will start hardening into tartar. Bacteria colonies will begin to thrive. And in some cases, tooth decay can begin. You’ll undoubtedly feel less comfortable than usual and may suffer from bad breath.
- After one week. After a week of not brushing your teeth, you’ll begin doing some real damage. The tartar in your mouth will become harder to remove. Tooth decay will accelerate. Your breath will grow worse. And your gums may start to suffer as well. At this point, you’ll probably feel your teeth begin to develop an unpleasant, almost fuzzy texture.
- After one month. If you manage to go an entire month without brushing your teeth, you’ll likely begin suffering severe consequences. Your teeth may function generally at this point, but you’ll almost certainly start developing cavities on the inside. You may lose all your teeth if you don’t return to good oral health and begin addressing the damage soon.
Committing to Better Oral Health
Fortunately, oral health is inexpensive and only takes a few minutes daily.
- Brush. Take the time to brush your teeth at least twice daily with a soft, bristled toothbrush or an electric brush.
- Floss. Commit to flossing at least once per day, and make sure to get behind your gum line.
- Rinse. Consider rinsing with a fluoride-based mouthwash, especially if you’re vulnerable to cavities.
- Visit your dentist. Visit your dentist twice yearly for regular cleaning and a screening for potential issues.
Brushing your teeth is arguably the most crucial step for oral health, and if you stop doing it, you’ll undoubtedly regret it. There’s no reason to panic if you miss a single session, but it’s essential to turn brushing into a repeatable habit to avoid long-term complications.