Question: How bad is falling asleep without brushing your teeth? Answer: Most people are shocked to hear this, but going to bed without brushing your teeth is like going to bed with poop in your mouth.
How can that be? Every time you have a meal, the bacteria that naturally reside in your mouth feast on the food you eat. Just like every other living organism, these bacteria excrete waste after a meal. This waste is highly acidic and breaks down tooth enamel, causing root decay and cavities.
When you hit the sack without brushing, plaque starts to harden and calcify on your teeth. Once plaque has calcified, it’s impossible to remove with a toothbrush and floss and can only be removed by the hygienist during a teeth cleaning.
It gets worse. The gums see plaque buildup as an infection, so your immune system springs into action to attack that infection. By attacking the plaque buildup, your body starts to destroy the healthy tissues that hold your teeth in place, making the gums begin to pull away from the tooth.
Inflammation is a good thing that lets your body protect itself, but it can cause damage when it’s present for the long term. When you have the flu, inflammation destroys foreign invaders to get you healthy again. But imagine having the flu for years. Chronic inflammation puts extreme wear and tear on the body and studies have linked chronic inflammation in the mouth to hearing loss, dementia, and heart disease.
Okay, but is all this going to happen in just one night? No, but if you make a habit of not brushing and flossing before bed, this will absolutely happen over time.
So if it comes down to washing your face, changing into your pajamas, or brushing and flossing, you know which one I recommend. Taking two minutes to brush and floss before bed will save you years of pain and even extend your life.
What to Do When You’re Too Exhausted to Brush Before Bed
- Keep a toothbrush in the drawer of your nightstand. You don’t need toothpaste; just do a quick, gentle dry brush while you’re lying in bed. I use a snap-on sanitizer to keep it clean and smelling fresh despite the lack of toothpaste.
- Keep a flossing stick in the drawer of your nightstand. You can also floss with one hand while you’re lying in bed. Just grab the stick and bite down on the floss.
- Run your tongue over your teeth. Feel that? That’s called plaque and it’s like dense, low-cost housing for bacteria. The longer you let plaque sit in your teeth, the more you let the bacteria to proliferate and take hold in your mouth. Run your tongue over your teeth to create the habit; after a while, you’ll start to crave the feeling of slippery, clean teeth before you pass out in bed.
Mark Burhenne DDS
I love hearing from my readers. What did you think of this Q&A? What should I answer next? Let me know by leaving a comment below — I read each and every one!