What Happens if You Don’t Brush Your Teeth?

by | Oct 22, 2019 | Preventive Dentistry

Have you ever wondered what would happen if you abandoned your toothbrush, and just said, “I’m not brushing today!” While we hope that you brush twice a day to keep your teeth and gums at their best, many individuals don’t. Whether because they forgot, didn’t have time, or simply haven’t been in the practice of brushing twice a day, not brushing can happen. But what happens if you don’t brush your teeth? What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for three days, a year, or even ten years?

Most people in the dental community will urge anyone not to find out what happens if you don’t brush your teeth. The reason being is the damage will vary from person to person, and in some cases, it can have severe consequences. Does the idea of cavities and gum disease sound like something you’d like to avoid? Brushing and flossing are your first line of defense against these common dental issues. Without great at-home care, you can expect that at some point, gingivitis and tooth decay to become present.

Woman use both hands to close mouth refusing to brush her teeth

While missing a single day of the bushing isn’t the worst thing that could happen. It is essential to maintain good oral care habits daily. There was once a time when brushing wasn’t as easy as it is today, and people struggled with finding ways to brush plaque and bacteria from their teeth. For example, in ancient times, people would use sticks or twigs to remove debris and scrape their teeth. It wasn’t until the Chinese discovered hair from the pigs back to be an ideal bristle when attached to a bone, to clean their teeth.

Today, we have so many choices for toothbrushes; it is hard to believe that our ancestors ever had a problem with daily brushing. Not only do we have a wide range of soft, medium, and firm bristles to choose from, they are also available at a variety of price points, making it easier than ever for just about anyone to avoid primary oral health care at home. Let’s take a look at what could happen if a person decided to throw away the toothbrush and stop their daily oral health care routines.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for 3 days

For the first couple of days, it might not seem like that big of a deal that you have missed your daily routine with brushing. Or perhaps to some, it will feel incredibly weird. However, at three days post not brushing, you’ll notice that your teeth are starting to feel incredibly filmy. There aren’t any rough spots on the teeth; they have begun to be filled in by plaque and food debris. The filmy, sticky feeling is the plaque caused by the buildup of bacteria. Brushing not only removes the plaque but also prevents it from forming. After three days, bacteria have had an ample opportunity to overproduce can cause significant plaque.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for a week

At a week, noticeable changes will take place. The production of plaque increases and an individual will undoubtedly feel the slipperiness. You will also see the buildup, if you look in the mirror, that is forming at the gum line and on the teeth. After a week of no brushing, a smell might also develop, which can be off-putting. Even in about a week, your dentist will notice the presence of gum disease, called gingivitis.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for a month

At about a month, serious changes are taking shape. The most notable problem a person will have is the presence of gum disease. With the build-up of plaque at the gum line and below the gum line, an individual may notice some swelling and reddening. The effects of not brushing for a month can be reversed by visiting your dentist for a cleaning. He or she may recommend that a deep cleaning be necessary if the tartar build-up is extensive.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for a year

At about a year, a person is doing severe damage to the health of their teeth and gums by not brushing every day. However, this may not always be the case. Some patients might not develop any cavities after a year of no brushing but have horrible gum disease while some patients may have the reverse. It depends on the person and their health. But most research suggests that if you don’t brush your teeth for a year, you are putting yourself at considerable risk for cavities, advanced tooth decay, and periodontal disease.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth for ten years

Not brushing your teeth for ten years will put you at serious risk for health complications. Our oral health is crucial to fighting off certain types of bacteria and keeping us healthy. When the health of our teeth and gums suffer, things like pneumonia can be more common. Other notable problems that can occur from not brushing your teeth include coronary heart disease, dementia, diabetes, and complications during pregnancy. Research suggests that an individual can reduce their chances of pneumonia by 40% just with excellent oral health habits and care.

What happens if you don’t brush your teeth with braces

It can be challenging to brush your teeth with braces. Most dentists will discuss this with their patients before starting treatment. It can also make a wearer not want to clean regularly. However, it is essential that you brush when you have braces, because your oral health throughout orthodontic care is essential. Orthodontics, like braces, are adjusting the position of your teeth; with the buildup of tartar and plaque, cavities and tooth decay may occur.


As you can see, what happens if you don’t brush your teeth can carry tremendous amounts of problems not only for your oral health but your total health. It is equally vital that along with routine care at home that you see your dentist every six months for cleaning and checkups. Brushing every day removes bacteria that cause plaque, tartar, and, eventually, the formation of cavities. Allowing cavities to progress to advanced tooth decay could lead to tooth loss. Is that something you’re willing to risk from not brushing your teeth?

Stephen Nozaki

Stephen Nozaki

Dr. Stephen Nozaki is the owner and lead dentist at Image Dental in Stockton, CA. He has received his training at California State University and Loma Linda University, then completed his fellowship with the International Dental Implant Association. Today, Dr. Nozaki specializes in same-day crowns and dental implants. He is a member of the American Dental Association (ADA), California Dental Association (CDA), San Joaquin Dental Society (SJDS), as well as a diplomate with the International Dental Implant Association, which allows him to always stay current with the most current information and training on these procedures.

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