You’ve always heard that you’re supposed to brush your teeth for two minutes twice per day. But what happens if you don’t? Maybe you went through a period of poor lifestyle choices, suffered from a severe medical condition, or have a child that just doesn’t care about tooth brushing.
If you were to go without brushing your teeth, this is what would happen:
1. Plaque and tartar develops – The very first thing you would notice if you don’t brush your teeth is an increase in plaque formation. Plaque develops within a matter of minutes after each meal…and it calcifies within at least 24 hours.
Gradually, you will begin to notice a soft white or yellow film coating your teeth. Either you will feel it with your tongue, or it will be visible in the mirror. The plaque will be thickest along the gumlines.
Within weeks or months, heavy tartar buildup will start to form a sheet over the lower front and upper back teeth. Eventually this calculus will take on stains, turning brown or yellow, as it spreads into adjacent areas and under your gums.
2. Gingivitis takes hold – Within days or a couple of weeks without brushing, you will start to get gingivitis. Your gums will begin to swell and turn a bright red due to the inflammation. Brushing and flossing will cause them to bleed.
Even irregular brushing and flossing can allow gingivitis to form. Here’s a tip: it takes up to two weeks of rigorous home hygiene for symptoms to reverse.
3. Teeth Begin to Decay – As plaque rests on top of your enamel, it creates acid byproducts each time you eat. Certain diets — such as those rich in carbs or sugars — will lead to higher acid production.
Your enamel will begin to demineralize. As it becomes soft, white spots develop on its surface. Gradually, those weak areas erode, creating cavities across your teeth. Because cavities are bacterial infections, they can spread to neighboring teeth, creating a “chain reaction” throughout your mouth.
4. Gum Disease Advances – Your gingivitis now becomes periodontal disease. The bacteria inside of the plaque and tartar have started to work their way down under the gumlines, causing your gums to detach from your teeth and the bone supporting them to erode.
At first, you’ll notice your gumlines start to recede. Your teeth will begin to feel loose and maybe a little sensitive due to the exposed roots. Visible spaces or gaps will be noticeable between them.
5. You Lose Your Teeth – Whether due to rapid bone loss around your teeth, or emergency extractions due to large, painful cavities, you will ultimately wind up losing your smile. It may take years or even decades, but it will eventually happen.