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Everyday dental care is essential to maintaining a healthy and attractive-looking smile. However, forgetting to brush for even a few days can mean a lot of problems for the teeth and gums. When teeth are not brushed regularly, plaque can build up and lead to dangerous tooth decay and gum disease near Renton, WA. You can feel this plaque by running your tongue over your teeth. And nearly half of Americans don’t brush their teeth enough.

What Happens When You Forget to Brush for 1 Day?

When you don’t brush your teeth, you encourage the formation of plaque. Dental plaque can start to decalcify dentin, the protective material underneath the enamel, within 48 hours states Shafer’s Textbook of Oral Pathology. Forgetting to brush for one day isn’t going to result in significant plaque build-up on the teeth but brushing your teeth more frequently ensures you are adequately removing plaque from your teeth.


Some of the types of bacteria are good but some are primed to do real damage. A big offender is plaque which is a coating of bacterial film that feeds on the residual sugars left in the mouth. It produces acid that eats away tooth enamel and cause cavities, or small holes, to form. These lingering sugars are like a banquet for plaque. After awhile, plaque film gets harder and more resistant to scraping and brushing and become biofilm, or super plaque. Then it forms tartar, solid bits that irritate the gums.

What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth for 5 Days?

As seen in the short video, after five days of not brushing or flossing, a significant amount of plaque can build up on the teeth.

It’s hard to see the plaque with the naked eye as it’s white on white teeth, but this plaque causes the mouth to smell and the teeth to feel fuzzy and as if there is a film over the surface. The plaque can lead to other, more dangerous effects though. Plaque contains bacteria that lead to gum disease and cavities. If it is not removed regularly—with daily brushing and flossing—then patients may suffer from dangerous consequences to their oral health.

What Happens Long Term When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth?

When bacteria and plaque in the mouth aren’t brushed away, it can lead to a myriad of health problems including cavities, gum disease, push your immune system into overdrive and cause a host of other problems in other parts of the body. A dirty mouth has been linked to pneumonia, heart attacks, and even MRSA in the case of dentures.

When food builds up in the nooks and crannies, you’re inviting a host of bacteria into your mouth including around your gum line. This causes tenderness and bleeding. But this is just the start. Eventually, this infection triggers your immune system which sends cells to fight the bacteria resulting in a hostile environment. This environment gets rid of the bacteria but can also damage cells in nearby tissue and bone. This tissue and bone will eventually die resulting in periodontal disease which means no more tissue and bone. When this happens your gums separate from your teeth which creates pockets that quickly become space for bacteria to further infect your gums. And you eventually start to lose your teeth.

And while you may not think this will happen to you, according to Science Insider about 10% of Americans between ages 50 and 64 have lost all their teeth.

Oral Health Problems That Occur When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth

We don’t brush our teeth every day simply to keep our breath fresh and oral bacteria at bay. Regularly brushing your teeth goes further into preventing other health problems. Here are a few potential health problems that can occur if you stop brushing your teeth:

  • cavities
  • gingivitis
  • periodontitis
  • tooth loss
  • bad breath
  • mouth and stomach ulcers
  • oral cancer
  • heart disease
  • pregnancy issues
  • bleeding teeth and gums

Tips to Keep Your Mouth Healthy

Good dental health begins in infancy but if you don’t have the best oral hygiene habits, it’s easy to get better starting today.

  • BRUSH. Make sure to brush your teeth at least twice daily for at least 2 minutes with a toothpaste that contains fluoride to fight cavities.
  • FLOSS. Floss at least once a day. If you are not a fan of flossing, try water flossing, an interdental toothbrush, or dental picks.
  • GET YOUR TEETH CLEANED TWICE A YEAR. Every 6 months you should get your teeth cleaned. Some people may require more frequent teeth cleanings such as those prone to cavities, have existing gum disease or who are at risk for gum disease.
  • NO TOBACCO.Smoking cigarettes or using smokeless tobacco products can increase your risks for dental decay and periodontal disease.
  • USE MOUTH RINSE.Use fluoridated mouth rinse. This helps if you’ve had a lot of cavities or your dentist has told you that you’re at an increased risk for cavities.
  • EAT HEALTHY. Reduce your risk for dental decay by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting high-sugar foods.
  • DRINK FLUORIDATED WATER. Drinking fluoridated water can decrease a child’s risk for tooth decay anywhere from 18-40%. Many cities add fluoride to their water supply to enhance dental health. If your city does this then drinking from the tap can help strengthen your teeth.

If you forget to brush every once in a while there’s no need to panic. But good oral hygiene habits are vital to your overall dental health.

The gum disease process can begin in as little as 12 hours so it’s important to brush your teeth every day.
About the Author – Dr. Thuy Nguyen, DDS

Dr. Thuy Nguyen DDS in Tukwila, WA holds a Bachelor of Science in Microbiology and received a Doctorate of Dental Surgery from the University of Washington. In 2011, she also completed the Progressive Orthodontic Program. She is known for her fine work and a friendly and caring attitude. Her enthusiasm for dentistry is contagious, as she designs and improves smile after smile. Dr. Nguyen is bilingual in English and Vietnamese. She maintains memberships to the Seattle King County Dental Association, The Washington State Dental Association, and The American Dental Association.


Healthline: Here’s What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth

Science Insider: Here’s What Happens If You Stopped Brushing Your Teeth

Geisinger: Here’s How Not Brushing Your Teeth Could Make You Sick

HowStuffWorks: What Happens When You Don’t Brush Your Teeth

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