For a healthy mouth – don’t forget to brush your teeth! It’s not something you can hide very long. If you forget to brush your teeth, even for a day or two, chances are those close to you will know. According to Dr. Mark S. Wolff, New York University School of Dentistry professor and chairman of the Department of Cardiology and Comprehensive Care, by the second day, you will have noticeably bad breath.

That may be all right for children and teens, but for adults, it would represent a major social taboo.

Wolff notes that not brushing is common among young males, who typically seem to conquer their forgetfulness “about the time they start dating.” He adds, however, that nearly a quarter of adults admit to going two or more days without brushing during the preceding year. It doesn’t seem to be only the outdoor enthusiasts on backwoods adventures, either! In addition, about 30 percent of adults are said to be not brushing long enough each day to be of sufficient value.

So what happens if you don’t brush your teeth?

It’s not pretty, according to dental professionals. Changes in the mouth occur pretty quickly; within about 24 hours, a thin film of sticky plaque begins to form. From there, it’s all downhill, so to speak.

After seven days, the plaque accumulation is thicker; after about the third day of abstinence, the beginning signs of gingivitis can be seen, and some bleeding is not uncommon. Gums might become red and irritated. While it’s hard for us to imagine, after 30 days, the mouth’s bacteria have run rampant.

Those ‘bad guys’ that cause dental caries (or tooth decay) and wreak havoc on gums have not only taken up residence, but have begun to destroy your pearly whites, which will not now be so white! White spots will begin to form on tooth surfaces; signaling decalcification of the outer layer of tooth enamel, and gums will most likely be noticeably inflamed.

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After a year without brushing – well, you might still have teeth in your mouth. But your mouth would be a mess. According to best guesses, your saliva itself would start affecting your mouth in a very unpleasant way. It will cause holes in the teeth and ‘angry’ gums. Soon after that, the gums might start receding, and then actual tooth loss becomes imminent.

Age and overall health are factors. Young, healthy teeth and mouths have the ability to recover from mistreatment to a greater degree than older teeth housed in a body that’s also aging or unhealthy in other ways. We now know there’s a very real connection between overall wellness and oral health, one that is not to be taken lightly. It works in both directions.

And after five years? Wolff explains that a young person might “get away with it.” An older person, though, almost certainly would suffer severe damage. Why risk it?

Brush your teeth at least twice a day

Luckily, the solution is simple. Simply brush for at least two minutes at least once a day – twice is better and after each meal wouldn’t hurt.

Our team at Salcetti & Associates can help you maintain your teeth and gums in top condition through advice, examinations and restorative work. But we cannot hold that toothbrush for you. Our advice echoes that of every dentist we know.

In order to protect your teeth and maintain your oral health, you simply must make it an ongoing habit to brush, floss and keep those regularly scheduled appointments. If you are diligent about brushing, come see us anyway. We’ll check out your gums, answer your questions and smile right along with you.