When You Don't Brush Your Teeth, This Is What Happens

While it's okay if you forget to brush your teeth every once in a while, not brushing your teeth on a consistent basis can lead to a number of health problems. In addition to a possible toothache, forgetting to brush your teeth can result in cavities (via Healthline). Cavities, or tooth decay, are caused by the buildup of plaque in the enamel of your teeth. Since plaque is made up of bacteria, untreated cavities can potentially lead to infections or even cause your teeth to fall out. 

Poor dental hygiene can also lead to gingivitis or periodontitis. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums commonly caused by a bacterial infection. Gingivitis will cause the gums to become inflamed and bleed easily when brushing or flossing. If left untreated, gingivitis will progress into periodontitis, which can cause damage to the bones that support your teeth, resulting in tooth loss.

"That process can occur either very slowly in the form of chronic periodontitis or in some specific cases it can be quick onset in the form of aggressive periodontitis," Dr. Lawrence Fung, founder of Silicon Beach Dental, told Well+Good. "Some risk factors that can cause it to come on quicker to cause bone loss can be tobacco use, drug use, conditions that cause decreased immunity, and certain diseases like diabetes," he added.

How to prevent cavities and tooth loss

Practicing good oral hygiene is key to preventing gum disease, tooth loss, or cavities. To keep your gums and teeth healthy, brush your teeth twice a day and floss on a regular basis. You should brush your teeth for a minimum of two minutes to eliminate plaque buildup, and floss at least once a day, according to the American Dental Association.

You should also limit the amount of sugary foods and beverages you consume, and visit your dentist for regular cleaning once every six months. If you're a smoker, quitting can also reduce your risk of developing cavities and gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontitis. In addition, rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash can help strengthen your teeth and reduce your risk of getting a cavity. In some cases, your dentist may recommend a professional fluoride treatment if you are at high risk for cavities.