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To Sleep Before You Brush: How Bad Is It?

dreamstime_l_12593847We all know to brush our teeth before we go to bed. But missing this step does happen. But really, how bad is it? Is it as bad as smoking? Or sitting for too long? In the list of healthful things you should do everyday, where does falling asleep without a clean mouth land?

Well it is a process.  So going to bed without brushing,  can take months to years to have a really negative effect.  But just so you are aware, here are the steps in that process. 

Each time you eat, the bacteria in your mouth feasts on the sugars and debris left in your mouth. These bacteria then express (honestly it’s more like poop) the byproduct or as we said before,  poop into your mouth. This happens after every time you eat because all food and liquids other than water, results in sugars.

This byproduct is acidic and eats away at your tooth enamel, creating tooth decay. While you sleep this acidic byproduct, which is referred to as plaque,  will begin to harden to your teeth. Once this happens you cannot clean it off yourself. You must go see your hygienist for a professional cleaning which is why you every 6 months for a professional cleaning. 

What if you don’t go for a cleaning? Well your body identifies the build up of plaque as an infection. Your immune system is activated and it begins to attack the infection, aka plaque.  This plaque in turn, destroys the tissue that holds your teeth in place. This is called gum disease. The gums pull away from your teeth which can eventually mean bone loss and your perfectly good teeth might fall out.

That is a little dramatic. Of course one night of accidentally falling asleep without brushing and flossing will not result in the loss of teeth. However if this is a habit and repeated over the years and combined with irregular professional tartar removal,  you can expect some bone and tooth loss in your fifties and sixties. Ultimately, if that is not worrying you, than continually challenging your immune system for years with gum disease is now shown to be directly linked to a multitude of problems like heart disease and cancer.

It’s not all dismal! Here are some handy tips if you’re too tired or don’t have a toothbrush on hand.

  1. Alcohol. If you’re spending the evening drinking anyways, make sure that the last things you consume are: a) swish some alcohol around your mouth before you swallow. This will kill some of the bacteria but still deposit sugar. b) Then swish some water to wash away the sugar around your mouth.
  2. Mouthwash. Too tired to brush? Mouthwash will kill some of the bacteria and you’ll feel better.
  3. No toothbrush? Rub your teeth with your finger or a clean facecloth to remove bacteria and sugar. Check out our other No Toothbrush Tips!
  4. Make a point of doing an extra better brush and floss first thing in the morning.
  5. Get an electric toothbrush.  You spend less energy and your teeth get brushed while half asleep.

Even a sloppy job of brushing and mouthwash once in a while will do you better than forgetting for a night.  Think of it this way when you are too tired at night, moving the bacteria around prevents those bugs from doubling in 24 hours. And you deserve good oral health.