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What Happens If You Fall Asleep Without Brushing Your Teeth?

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You had a late night out with friends and are finally headed back home in the wee hours of the morning. As soon as you’re in the house, you change right into your pajamas and can’t wait to get into bed. You’re completely exhausted and even the thought brushing your teeth seems too strenuous a task. Would it be so bad to fall asleep without completing your nighttime oral routine?

What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth

When you skip running a brush across your teeth, you’re allowing plaque to grow in your mouth. “Food debris combines with saliva to form plaque,” explains Timothy Chase, DDS, cosmetic dentist and cofounder of SmilesNY. “Plaque eventually hardens to form tartar. Plaque and tartar cause irritation, inflammation, and bleeding of the gums, as well as dental decay, also known as cavities.” He also added that gum disease can lead to the loss of the supporting gum and bone that hold your teeth in, eventually leading to tooth loss.

This is why brushing your teeth twice a day, every day, is so important. “Brushing your teeth regularly and correctly cleans the food debris and plaque from your teeth before it has a chance to turn into calculus and decay,” says Dr. Chase. Using a toothpaste like Pronamel is also a good option, as it strengthens and rehardens enamel and helps protect against the effects of enamel erosion.

How Bad Is Not Brushing Your Teeth Before Bed?

So now that we know why we need to brush daily and what happens when we don’t, is it really so bad to skimp on the bedtime oral care routine once in a while?

“Failing to brush your teeth at the end of the day gives the bad bacteria in your mouth many hours to feast on the debris and release acids that cause tooth decay and gum disease,” Dr. Chase says. “It can also be enough time to allow some of the soft plaque to harden into calculus that you cannot remove by brushing. Doing this once, or once in a while, may not be the end of the world, but it certainly is a cumulative issue where prior neglect builds into a bigger problem.”

Long story short? It’s never a good idea to fall asleep without brushing your teeth if you can prevent it. “Of course, a little cleaning is better than no cleaning,” says Dr. Chase, “but investing the time to do it correctly is the healthy way to go.”

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