Your dental health depends on brushing and flossing. Everyone knows this. But some of the biggest dangers to the health of your teeth occur when you’re least able to prevent them — namely, while you sleep.
Leftover Food Particles
A good, thorough toothbrushing, flossing, and tongue cleaning before bed can clear out any leftover particles of food that might be lurking in the nooks and crannies of your mouth. Most of the time, the bacteria in your mouth are harmless (even beneficial, in some cases), but only in the right balance. Food particles can cause the bacteria to upset this balance and wreak havoc on your enamel, which is otherwise the strongest substance in the human body.
The Power of Saliva
Dentists also recommend that we brush our teeth after big meals, but not as strongly as they recommend we brush before bedtime. Why? One of the main reasons is saliva production. Saliva is our bodies’ natural means of keeping the mouth clean and rinsed. Throughout the day, we talk and laugh and eat and drink and smile — all of which stimulates the production of saliva. So the reason it’s so important to clear out your mouth before bedtime is simple: we don’t produce as much saliva while we sleep.
Another nighttime threat to good dental health has very little to do with food, at least not directly. Bruxism (or tooth grinding) can, over time, wear down the enamel of your teeth, exposing the sensitive dentin just underneath the strong outer layer. Once the enamel is breached, whether through a crack, a chip, or erosion caused by grinding, decay can easily establish a foothold. If you’re worried about grinding, ask your partner if they’ve noticed any tell-tale nightly noises. If you live alone, ask your dentist to look for signs of wear.
We live in a pretty amazing time for cosmetic dentistry, when dentists can replace an entire mouthful of teeth with fancy new implants. But the best option is now, and will forever be, to maintain good dental health, and to take the best possible care of your original teeth, so they can stay with you well into your old age. See this link for more references.