If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: brush and floss your teeth. Not just occasionally, but every day! It’s kind of a non-negotiable for us because, well, we’re dentists, for one, and for two, we know what can happen if you skip brushing.
We’re not talking about missing a night of flossing or forgetting to brush before you go to bed; we’re talking about individuals who skip brushing regularly and floss only when something is stuck in their teeth.
How Often Should You Brush Your Teeth?
We recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes and that you floss your teeth at least once a day.
Yes, we said twice a day and for two whole minutes each time. Now, you may think you are brushing long enough, but we recommend setting a timer and seeing how long you’re really brushing for each time you brush!
We also recommend paying attention to where you’re brushing. No, not what room you’re in, but are you getting all the surfaces of your teeth or are you staying on the right outer side for a long time and not getting your upper left inside?
That’s OK! It does happen, but being aware of how you’re brushing and how long you are brushing allows you to make adjustments to brush better and improve your overall oral health.
A Word About Flossing
Think about all the surfaces your toothbrush touches: the top chewing surface, the lingual (tongue side) of your tooth and the buccal (cheek side). But what about between your teeth? Your toothbrush does not reach between your teeth very easily. But don’t panic – reach for the floss instead!
Dental floss does 40 percent of the work of your toothbrush by removing sticky dental plaque and food debris that get caught in between the teeth and left behind when you brush.
What Happens if You Skip Brushing and Flossing?
In the short term (i.e., you miss brushing one night), not a whole lot. You’ll probably wake up with funky breath and a sticky-feeling film all over your teeth. But these things will go away as soon as you brush.
But if you regularly skip brushing and flossing and make poor oral hygiene practices a habit, you can put yourself at risk for some pretty severe problems.
So what happens if you don’t stick to a good oral hygiene routine?
You could develop a range of conditions, including:
Gum disease. One of the most severe health issues that can develop from regularly skipping brushing and flossing is periodontal (gum) disease. Red, swollen and bleeding gums characterize this condition. If left untreated, it could cause bone damage, tooth loss and an increased risk of developing more severe illnesses, including cardiac disease, diabetes and even dementia.
Tooth loss. Not brushing and flossing your teeth regularly can translate to tooth loss, either from tooth decay or because the bone and other tissues that support your teeth become damaged, and your teeth fall out.
Bad breath. Skip brushing for a while and see what happens to your breath. The odds are that the funky smell/taste in your mouth you get after skipping brushing for a day becomes permanent. What causes it? The decay of food particles left in your teeth! Gross.
Pregnancy problems. Did you know that up to 75 percent of pregnant women experience gingivitis, the earliest form of gum disease? This makes it critical to keep up with your oral health both during and after pregnancy to prevent gum disease and other oral health issues. Some studies have also found that pregnant women who deal with oral health issues are more likely to have babies with low birth weight or children who develop cavities.
Diabetes. Are you living with diabetes? If so, did you know that your condition can contribute to oral health issues and can increase your chances of developing gum disease? Also, some research has found that periodontal disease can contribute to an increased risk of developing diabetes.
Ulcers in the mouth and stomach. If your oral health severely declines, an ulcer-causing bacteria called Helicobacter pylori (h. pylori) can form in pockets under the gums and cause ulcers in the stomach or the mouth.
Cardiovascular disease. There is a known connection to poor oral health, particularly the presence of periodontal disease, and heart problems, including a condition known as endocarditis, which causes inflammation of the lining of the heart muscle and an increased risk of heart attack, heart disease, atrial fibrillation and stroke.
While we’re talking oral health, not only do we recommend you brush and floss regularly, but also that you see the dentist at least twice a year for professional cleanings.
Are you due for a checkup? Let us check out your dental health. Give us a call now to schedule your appointment.