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This Is What Happens When You Don't Brush Your Teeth

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Medically Reviewed By Colgate Global Scientific Communications

You've probably heard too many times to count that brushing your teeth daily is essential. After a while, you might take this sound advice for granted. So here's a "brush up" on what happens when you don't brush your teeth, and why committing to good oral care benefits your health — and your wallet.

Why Do You Need to Brush Your Teeth?

If you need a refresher, you're not alone. Unfortunately, many people continue to fall short when it comes to proper tooth brushing. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 32 percent of adults have untreated cavities. While cavities can occur despite your best efforts, one of the best ways to prevent and get rid of dental plaque, the bacteria that causes cavities, is to thoroughly brush and floss daily.

What Happens When You Don't Brush Your Teeth

According to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, there are over 300 specific types of bacteria living in your mouth. When you don't brush, these bacteria get to work ingesting food particles and sugary debris that ultimately cause tooth decay. If you miss just one time brushing your teeth, the interaction between these particles and bacteria will likely create a bad taste and a bad smell in your mouth. What's more, this buildup of bacteria can be spread through direct contact, such as kissing.

If you fall short of brushing one night, the consequences aren't necessarily severe (though you should aim to get back on track by flossing and brushing right away). But if you've missed brushing and flossing more frequently, or if your attention to thorough and proper brushing has waned, you can increase your risk of bone and tissue loss around the teeth, according to the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry.

Benefits of Brushing Better

Some people have a higher risk of developing cavities. It's a good idea to talk to your dentist about your family oral health history and get a complete exam. Those who have an autoimmune disease may have an increased chance of developing gum disease and tooth decay. Maintaining a good oral health routine is especially critical for those who are more susceptible to cavities.

You can control the bacteria buildup in your mouth by brushing twice a day and flossing once daily. This simple, two-minute habit goes a long way, and is one of the easiest investments you can make in your health. Up your brushing game by establishing some simple new habits. Bring a travel brush to work and brush and floss after lunch. The peppermint flavor commonly used in toothpaste may even provide a quick pick-me-up to help you feel more awake after lunchtime!

Consistent care can lead to less time in the dentist's office and reduce the strain on your wallet from extensive dental work. Brush better and more frequently and you'll have a healthier smile.


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This article is intended to promote understanding of and knowledge about general oral health topics. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your dentist or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment.

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