You probably already know you should brush your teeth twice a day. Most patients brush when they wake up and right before they go to bed. For most people, however, if there is a brushing session that gets skipped, it is the one before your head hits the pillow. After all, you won’t be eating candy while you dream, and you’re certainly not concerned with bad breath while you’re deep in your slumber – so skipping a night or two can’t be that bad, right? Not so fast. Cleaning your teeth before nighttime sleep is actually a very important task, and here’s why.
Did you know that there are about 25,000 different species of bacteria in the average human mouth? Up to 1,000 of these bacteria play a role in plaque formation and cavities. The worst thing you can do for this bacteria is to feed it. Oral bacteria feeds on the sugars, starches and other food debris we consume during meals and snacks. If you neglect to brush before bed and remove these food particles you’ve consumed during breakfast, lunch and dinner, you’re giving oral bacteria a midnight snack, which means they will breed or multiply while you’re catching your zzz’s.
Another key reason to brush before bed involves metabolism. Our body’s metabolism is designed to naturally slow down when we go to sleep. This causes your mouth to make less saliva. Your saliva (or spit) plays a vital role in controlling oral bacteria, as it not only rinses away harmful substances from your teeth but it also contains enzymes that neutralize acids and fight cavities. In addition, less saliva means that we swallow less. Therefore, bacteria are given extra time to feed and grow.
What is Your Nightly Oral Hygiene Routine?
Just as important as when you brush is how you brush. Make sure you are using a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste. Brush all surfaces of your teeth (including your tongue) for a total of two minutes or more. Follow up your brushing session with floss and rinse with mouthwash if you want to go the extra mile for your smile.
At Smile Design Studios, we are passionate about caring for your smile. We know that the majority of your oral care routine happens outside of our dental office. Therefore, we always look for opportunities to help you manage your smile health at home. For more information about brushing habits or other dental hygiene tips, please call our Houston office.