The gruesome truth about what really happens if you don’t brush your teeth just once

The gruesome truth about what really happens if you don’t brush your teeth just once

FOR most of us, brushing our teeth comes as second nature.

But, new research reveals how many people fail to brush enough, the impact of which is worse than you’d imagine.

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Whilst over two-thirds of women brush their teeth at least twice daily, only half of men say they reach for their toothbrush this much, according to a survey by TopRatedCasinos.

Plus, three per cent of Brits admit to never actually brushing their teeth, amounting to over 1.9 million people in the UK.

Just under a third (31 per cent) of Brits said they never floss, despite being recommended to do so at least once a day to improve gum health.

Dr Rhona Eskander, dentist and co-founder of PÄRLA Toothpaste Tabs, says that the maximum time one should leave their teeth unbrushed is 24 hours, maximum.

She says: “Beyond this point, plaque buildup becomes significant, increasing the risk of dental issues.”

We all forget to brush our teeth from time to time, perhaps letting ourselves off after a late night.

Both of your teeth-brushing sessions are important, but according to Dr Eskhander, if you had to choose, missing the evening brush is slightly worse than the morning. 

She says: “During sleep, saliva production decreases, allowing bacteria to multiply more quickly.

“Brushing before bedtime helps remove food particles and bacteria that can lead to overnight tooth decay.”

If your teeth never catch a glimpse of a brush, the consequences can be severe.

“They may experience extensive tooth decay, gum disease, tooth loss, chronic bad breath, and significant oral pain. In extreme cases, untreated dental issues can even impact overall health,” says Dr Eskhander.

Often neglect your teeth? You might experience some pretty gruesome problems…

1. Plaque builds up within hours

Swerving the toothbrush means that bacteria in your mouth feed on food particles and produce acids, according to Dr Eskhander.

“Within hours, plaque begins to form on your teeth,” she says.

“Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease.

“Within a day or so, without brushing, you may notice a fuzzy feeling on your teeth, indicating the buildup of plaque.”

Over time, tartar can build – hardened dental plaque which Dr Eskhander says can only be removed by a dental professional.

As well as brushing, getting to grips with flossing can help ensure every part of your tooth is kept free from plaque.

Dr Eskhander says: “Flossing should ideally be done once a day. Flossing removes food particles and plaque between teeth that brushing alone can’t reach.”

2. Bad breath

Without minty-fresh toothpaste, bad breath can build.

“Bacteria in your mouth release odorous compounds when they break down food particles, causing bad breath,” says Dr Eskhander.

Keen to know if your breath is stinking?

Dr Eskhander says you can perform a simple “lick and sniff” test.

She says: “Lick the inside of your wrist, let it dry for a few seconds, and then smell it. 

“If it has an unpleasant odour, you may have bad breath. Another method is to use dental floss between your back teeth, sniff it, and check for any foul odour.”

She adds that maintaining good oral hygiene and staying hydrated can help prevent bad breath.

3. Teeth can stain the same day

Wish you had pearly whites? Don’t skip teeth brushing, as stains can build in just a day.

Dr Eskhander says: “Lack of brushing allows stains from food, beverages, and tobacco to accumulate, leading to tooth discoloration.

“Staining from foods and drinks can vary depending on factors like tooth enamel health and oral hygiene. 

“Generally, immediate staining may occur with foods and drinks like red wine, coffee, tea, berries, and dark sodas.”

Dr Eskhander says that significant staining may take a few days to become noticeable so regular brushing and dental cleanings can help minimise these stains.

4. Gum disease and tooth loss

If you regularly skip your teeth brushing, gum disease is far more likely in the long term.

Dr Eskhander says: “Untreated plaque can cause gingivitis, an early form of gum disease.

“If left unchecked, it can progress to periodontitis, leading to tooth loss.”

Symptoms of gum disease can include swollen, red or sore gums, gums that bleed when brushing or flossing and receding gums, which make teeth look longer. 

Dr Eskhander says that other symptoms include persistent bad breath, pus between the gums and teeth, changes in the fit of partial dentures, loose or shifting teeth and painful chewing.

“If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s essential to see a dentist promptly, as early intervention can prevent gum disease from progressing to more severe stages,” she adds.

Gum disease linked to dementia, colon cancer and heart disease.

Are you brushing your teeth correctly?

Dentists recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day, ideally in the morning and before bedtime.

Dr Rhona Eskander, dentist and co-founder of PÄRLA Toothpaste Tabs, says: “Brushing should last for approximately two minutes each time.

“Brush gently in circular motions, ensuring you cover all tooth surfaces.”

Not too hard

Dentist Dr Alfonso Rao, or Define Clinic, Beaconsfield, Bucks said it’s essential to find a balance between brushing effectively and not applying too much pressure.

“Brushing too hard can cause harm to the soft tissues and tooth surface,” he said.

Which toothpaste?

Dr Eskhander recommends using a soft-bristle toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste as fluoride helps prevent tooth decay.

“You can also choose toothpaste with ingredients like baking soda for whitening or potassium nitrate for sensitivity.”

Don’t spit

Faizan Zaheer, from Bupa Dental Care, says: “People tend to rinse their mouths after brushing.

“However, this causes the removal of fluoride from the teeth, which means it can’t benefit by strengthening the minerals in the enamel.”

Rinsing with mouthwash is another habit to drop.

Faizan says: “It usually has a lower fluoride concentration than toothpaste.

“Therefore, it will dilute the fluoride concentration in the mouth if used after brushing.”

Wait after eating

It’s not uncommon for people to brush their teeth right after breakfast. But wait at least half an hour before doing this, experts say.

Celebrity Harley Street dentist Dr Richard Marques said: “The precious enamel that coats the teeth is temporarily weakened after eating due to the acids present in food, so by brushing right after you eat, you risk damaging it.”

Floss every day

Using floss or small interdental brushes removes bacteria between your teeth.

Change toothrush head

It’s recommended to change your toothbrush head on electric toothbrushes at least once every three months.

Dr Viren Vithlani, specialist periodontist and co-founder of MyMouth, explained: “The main reason for that is that you tend to find the bristles of the brush flare over time and then they become less effective, so you’re not removing plaque and bacteria as effectively.

“That means you’re leaving potentially more bacteria on the teeth which is increasing your risk of gum problems or decay.

“The second reason is from a hygiene perspective.

“Most people will leave brushes out and not covered so you tend to get bacteria colonising on the brush bristles themselves.”

Tongue cleaning

Your tongue can also harbour bacteria, which can lead to bad breath, so keeping it clean is vital. 

You can use a tongue scraper for this, or even your toothbrush. 

Gently brush side to side as well and back and forth, before rinsing out your mouth with water or a mouthwash.