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6 reasons why you're never too busy to brush

Monday 7 August 2017

A young woman brushes her teeth, watching her reflection in the mirror.
Brushing your teeth has a whole host of health benefits, so make it a must on your schedule.

Picture this: it’s late, you’ve come home from drinks with colleagues, stopped for a kebab on the way, and all you want to do is crawl into bed as soon as you get inside. So, you decide not to journey to the bathroom and skip brushing your teeth for the night.

Or, you’re on your way out to an appointment after a quick breakfast, knowing you won’t return home until late in the day. You’re running behind and might miss the bus – there’s no time to brush your teeth this morning.

Sound familiar?

This Dental Health Week, the Australian Dental Association is encouraging busy Queenslanders to make oral health a priority. There are a number of good reasons to make brushing your teeth a must, read on to find out why a twice-daily brush should always be on your schedule.

1. Tooth decay

There are few times that decay in your body is a good thing, and tooth decay is no exception.

Tooth decay is a preventable disease that happens when bacteria in the plaque on your teeth create acid out of sugar and carbohydrates in food and drink. The acid attacks the tooth’s surface, eventually leading to holes, or cavities, in the teeth.

2. Stinky breath

Ever worried that your breath smells? If you haven’t been looking after your teeth, you might have reason to.

Bad breath can be embarrassing, but it can also be a sign of poor oral health.  Most commonly, bad breath is caused by the bacteria in your mouth breaking down old food and dead skin cells left on your teeth, gums and tongue. While these bacteria are naturally occurring, if you don’t brush regularly the bacteria can build in number with a constant supply of food left in your mouth.

3. Gum disease

Gum disease is inflammation of the gums caused by a build-up of plaque and calcified plaque (called calculus), and it’s exactly as unpleasant as it sounds.

Inflammation just in the gums is called gingivitis, which causes the gums to become red, swollen and tender, and bleed when you brush or floss. Gingivitis can be reversed, but you’ll want to get onto it quickly, because if left untreated it can turn into the much more severe periodontitis, which causes bone around the teeth to be destroyed.

Even though it can be painless as it develops, periodontitis can destroy the connection between your tooth and jaw bone, causing space in the gums where bacteria can collect, and possible permanent bone loss and tooth loss.

4. Infections

Tooth decay and gum disease can both lead to infection in the mouth, which can be very bad news.

An infection around the root of the tooth or gum can cause the gum to swell and pus to develop, creating pus-filled pockets called abscesses. Oral infections can spread to cause serious infections in the jaw bones and tissue surrounding the mouth. In some instances, tooth and gum infections can even cause death.

5. Overall wellbeing

Don’t be fooled, oral health is not just about your teeth and gums. The bacteria in plaque and calculus not only cause inflammation in the gums, but cause inflammation in other parts of the body as well. That’s why poor oral health is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes-related complications.

A dad brushes his teeth, while his daughter sits up on the bench and watches him.

6. Look who’s learning

If you’re a parent of young kids, you probably spend at least a few minutes every day trying to wrangle your young ones into brushing before bed. But why would children see tooth brushing as important if the adults in their lives don’t lead the way?

Studies show that the oral health of a child is linked to how well their mum looks after their teeth during and after pregnancy. This is because parents can pass on bacteria (both the helpful kind, and the kind that cause decay) to newborn babies, as well as teaching them how to look after their teeth well once they’re born. How well mums and dads look after their oral health can have a big impact on the oral health of the next generation.

Top tips for healthy teeth (and gums and tongues)

Have we convinced you to up your oral health game? Follow these tips to keep your pearly whites clean and healthy:

  • brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
  • visit the dentist regularly
  • don’t smoke
  • limit your sugar intake – remember many packaged foods that appear healthy may have added sugars
  • look out for acids that are hidden in “healthy” drinks – diet soft drinks and sports drinks contain strong acids that can dissolve the enamel in teeth
  • drink plenty of tap water
  • chew sugar-free gum
  • and choose healthy snacks like fruits, cheese and vegetables.
Last updated: 23 August 2017