OCT 27, 2017 2:47 PM PDT

What If You Never Brushed Your Teeth?

WRITTEN BY: Xuan Pham


We've likely all experienced a lapse in our dental routine at one time or another. It's especially easy to fall asleep after a long night without brushing and flossing our teeth. While dentists can forgive these occasional occurrences, forgoing basic teeth hygiene for months or even years will surely garner some serious scolding from all health professionals.

"Taking care of your teeth and gums isn't just about preventing cavities or bad breath," the American Dental Association (ADA) warns. "The mouth is a gateway into your body's overall health."

Indeed, if brushing is neglected, the bacteria in the mouth can infiltrate the gum line and into the blood system. This puts people at risk for a host of conditions, including cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. Beyond the mouth, the oral bacteria can make infections in other organs more likely, putting people at risk for pneumonia, kidney disease, and ulcers. Some studies have also linked bad oral health to dementia, brain abscess, diabetes, and even cancer.

So if you ever thought proper teeth maintenance was cosmetics, think again. The ADA recommends brushing at least twice a day, and flossing at least once a day. Furthermore, they recommend getting a new toothbrush, whether that be electric or manual, every season to make cleaning more effective.

About the Author
  • I am a human geneticist, passionate about telling stories to make science more engaging and approachable. Find more of my writing at the Hopkins BioMedical Odyssey blog and at TheGeneTwist.com.
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