side effects of not brushing your teeth

Dental professionals recommend that you brush your teeth at least twice a day. Failing to do so occasionally may not have a significant impact on your health. But when you go for days without brushing your teeth, your oral and general health will undoubtedly suffer. What’s more worrying is that most of the people who do not brush their teeth never think about the consequences. In this piece, we will outline some of the major side effects of not brushing your teeth.

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9 Possible side effects of not brushing teeth


Halitosis or bad breath is one of the problems associated with not brushing your teeth. Brushing your teeth regularly keeps your mouth fresh. We can attribute this to the fact that it prevents the accumulation of bacteria and plaque on your teeth. And halitosis is a result of these bacteria and their by-products breaking down in your mouth. Brushing your teeth disrupts this process and helps eliminate the odour-causing bacteria from the mouth.

Gum disease and cavities

After meals food residue accumulates on teeth. If left undisturbed it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Plaque is a whitish layer that starts forming around the gum line and gradually builds up to cover tooth surfaces. If left undisturbed for long enough, it hardens to form tartar, leading to inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and potentially gum disease (periodontitis). Brushing regularly removes the plaque layer and prevents cavity formation and the potential problems these may lead to if left unchecked, such as infections, root canal treatment and even extractions.

Tooth loss

Most people don’t look at tooth loss as a possibility. The reality of the matter is that neglecting your teeth can lead to tooth loss, which can of course lead to more complex treatments such as dental implants to rectify the situation. Statistics show that gum disease is responsible for over 65% of missing teeth.

Your mouth harbours hundreds of different types of bacteria. While some are healthy, others are harmful. Gum disease occurs when you allow bad bacteria to thrive in your mouth. The bacteria irritate your gum tissues and cause inflammation. Over time, the condition can progress and afflict your jawbone via bone resorption. When this happens, your teeth lose support and start becoming mobile and eventually require extraction or can even fall out on their own.

Possible link to dementia

Recent studies associate gum disease with other serious illnesses. These are the likes of dementia, Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. All these start from bacterial infection. Over time, the inflammatory products and bacteria travel through the bloodstream to your brain. Experts are still studying the link between dementia and poor dental hygiene and even though there is some evidence associating the two, the studies are still inconclusive.

Risk of heart disease

Periodontitis bears a certain level of heart disease risk. Research shows that people with gum diseases are at risk of developing heart disease.

Periodontitis emanates from poor oral hygiene. When you avoid brushing your teeth regularly, your mouth is exposed to harmful bacteria. If left untreated, this infection advances to the patients’ bloodstream. The infection affects the heart valves and can lead to heart disease. Oral health may not be directly responsible for heart disease, but proper oral hygiene may reduce the risk of developing it.

Gastro-intestinal Ulcers

What most people don’t know is that poor oral health has a connection to ulcers.

Studies have shown that duodenal and gastric ulcers and periodontitis have a relationship. It all narrows down to poor oral hygiene. Those who experience bone loss due to periodontitis are much likely to develop duodenal or gastric ulcers. In other studies, H. Pylori-bacteria that cause ulcers were closely associated with below-par dental hygiene. Researchers discovered that these bacteria are present in the saliva or the deep pockets of patients with periodontal disease.

Kidney disease

Health experts have found that periodontitis has been linked to kidney disease and may, unfortunately, increase mortality, as well as the morbidity of those with chronic kidney disease. This is because of infection, inflammation, and other complications. Excellent oral hygiene may help decrease these complications and improve the quality of life of renal patients.


The link between diabetes and periodontitis is well established. Diabetes alters your blood sugar levels. When you have gum infections like periodontitis, your chances of getting diabetes increase. Periodontitis is known to release inflammatory mediators due to poor dental hygiene. This in turn may contribute to the occurrence of diabetes.

It is therefore important to reduce your risk of periodontal diseases. The best way to do so is by adhering to proper oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day and floss, and you may save yourself from the onset of developing diabetes.

Pregnancy complications

Poor oral hygiene may not only affect the health of an expectant mother but also that of the unborn child. During pregnancy, expectant mothers need to practice a high level of oral hygiene. Unfortunately, expectant mothers are susceptible to gingival problems during pregnancy due to changes in hormone levels. These are exacerbated by poor oral care, especially in cases of morning sickness, and can lead to complications such as pregnancy tumours (benign growths on the gums that resolve after pregnancy), gingivitis, decay, low birth weight, and so on.

Once in a while, you might be tempted to skip brushing your teeth, and over time, this may become a habit. Keep in mind that it only takes 48 hours for plaque to build up on your teeth. Therefore, you do not want to leave food particles in between your teeth or on the surface of your teeth for a long time. The dangers of not brushing your teeth are more than just cavities and bad breath. You could develop other serious conditions as listed above. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and you will protect yourself from the pitfalls of poor oral hygiene.

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Savina Clinic – Dental & Implantology Centres are friendly, state-of-the-art practices in Malta and Gozo dedicated to comprehensive quality dental care. Savina Dental is an innovative dental practice in Malta and prides itself on the high-quality customer service, low waiting room times, attention to detail and the advanced dental technology at their disposal.

Joseph Xuereb
Principal Dental Surgeon & Owner of Savina Dental Clinics, Dr Joseph Xuereb BChD (Hons), MFGDP(UK), MGDS RCS(Eng), FFGDP RCS(UK), FICD is a general dental practitioner with a special interest in Implant and Restorative Dentistry. Dr Joseph & the teams' full biographical information can be found here.