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The Blunt Truth About Why You Need to Brush Before Going to Bed Each Night


Posted on 5/30/2017 by Scott Redlinger
A patients mouth suffering from gun disease.
You've heard it many times before: you should be brushing your teeth at least twice a day. One of those two sessions should be before you go to bed at night.

But if you're really tired, you may just want to fall into bed before you get around to it. And anyway, how bad can skipping one or two nightly brushing sessions every so often really be? As it turns out, pretty bad.

Bacterial Growth
Your mouth naturally contains some level of oral bacteria. These bacteria feast on leftover food particles and sugars throughout the day as you eat. You also build up plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky substance that collects bacteria and allows them to stay firmly on your teeth.

As they eat, the bacteria produce acids that destroy your teeth. They also multiply, and quite quickly. Brushing helps to remove plaque and significantly reduce the bacteria in your mouth. If you go to bed without brushing, you are giving the bacteria more time to eat and grow their colonies.

Dry Mouth

Saliva does more than just keep your mouth moist and digest your food. Saliva is also your body's natural defense against oral bacteria. It washes bacteria away, killing them at the same time. While you sleep, you produce less saliva, leading to dry mouth. Without saliva, your mouth becomes the perfect environment for bacteria to grow.

If you haven't brushed your teeth before going to bed, you are already starting with a large number of bacteria, which increases your risk for damage. You may brush in the morning, but by then, the damage is most likely done. Brushing before bed reduces the bacteria in your mouth, lessening the chance for damage to be done.

Gum Disease

Too much bacteria in your mouth leads to gum inflammation and the early stages of gum disease. As it progresses, bacteria fall below the inflamed gum line and attack your teeth and jawbone, leading to gum recession, infections in your teeth and tooth loss.

Not brushing at night significantly raises your risk of gum disease. Early stages are reversible with proper brushing, but if it goes on too long, the damage is irreversible and requires professional treatment to fix.

It might not seem like a big deal, but brushing before bed every night is essential to your oral health. And just because you brush at night, that does not mean you can be lax on your morning ritual.

Brushing first thing in the morning and last thing at night are the two most important times to brush, and the least you should do, along with daily flossing and regular visits to your dentist.

Please contact our office if you have any questions about brushing your teeth.


Scott M. Redlinger, DMD, MD

(775) 430-5355