When I moved in to my apartment, I was shocked to realize that my new roommate didn’t brush her teeth before she went to bed. I noticed that she wouldn’t take up much time in the bathroom at night (turns out she didn’t wash her face before bed either, which is a whole different problem). She claimed she only really need to brush her teeth once a day. She wasn’t eating anything overnight, so why not just brush her teeth in the morning? Sure, her logic made some sense, but I couldn’t help but wonder if this habit was bad for her teeth. I admit that I occasionally fall asleep without brushing my teeth, but for the most part, brushing it part of my regular nighttime routine. I always thought that brushing your teeth twice a day was a steadfast rule, but what if my roommate was on to something?
It turns out, skipping your nighttime brushing is actually a huge no-no. In fact, it’s actually super gross. One dentist even claims that going to bed without brushing your teeth is like “going to bed with poop in your mouth.” While that analogy is pretty extreme, it’s true that when you have a meal, the bacteria that naturally resides in your mouth feeds on the food you eat. This bacteria excretes waste (also know as plaque) after a meal. Plague is the film or fuzz you feel on your teeth and gums if you haven’t brushed your teeth in a while. This waste is highly acidic and breaks down tooth enamel, which can cause root decay and cavities. Going to bed without brushing your teeth is bad for you because the longer this plaque sits on your teeth, the more damage it can do.
READ MORE: How To Whiten Your Teeth At Home
The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day (so I was right!). One of these times should always be before you go to bed. Brushing disrupts the bacteria so it doesn’t stay in one place, which prevents tartar from forming. Dentists recommend brushing when you wake up and before you go to sleep because it’s habit forming and guarantees that plaque doesn’t reside in one place for too long. If you are in the bad habit of falling asleep before brushing, or you’re just extremely lazy, try keeping floss and a toothbrush in your bedside table. You can gently dry brush before bed (without toothpaste). It’s not as good as brushing for real, but it’s better than nothing.
READ MORE: Is Coffee, Tea Or Wine Worse For Your Teeth?
In an attempt to change my roommates habits, I actually got her a new toothbrush for her birthday. Since then, she’s been brushing her teeth more often (although I’m not sure if her new routine is because of the toothbrush or my disapproval of her old habits). I got us both the quip tootbrush after if kept showing up on my Instagram and Facebook feeds. At first I thought it was just a trendy toothbrush, but it actually a great alternative to expensive electronic toothbrushes. It’s cheap and compact and helps you make a habit of brushing your teeth every night.