How bad is it to fall asleep without brushing?

Cute little boy sleeping on sofa at home

Sometimes at bedtime, it’s easier to put your kids to bed without asking them to brush. You think one night can’t hurt… but that’s wrong! After EVERY meal, the bacteria that naturally exists in the mouth feeds on the food particles left behind after eating. The product then turns into waste, called plaque, which is highly acidic and breaks down tooth enamel. When it sits on the teeth for a period of time, the plaque begins to harden and calcify on teeth. Once plaque has calcified, it’s impossible to remove with a toothbrush, floss, or mouthwash and must be scraped by a hygienist during a routine teeth cleaning. Your child likely goes for a cleaning every six months, so if there is calcified plaque on the teeth, it may sit there for a dangerous amount of time.

Read below for questions we’ve recently received from parents and our best recommendations.

Q: My child gets cranky around bedtime and brushing is always a struggle. What can I do?

A: If your child often gets irritable later in the evening, you should have them brush and floss immediately following their final meal or snack of the day. Allow them to brush their teeth after breakfast and then again after dinner- it’s best to form a habit. Don’t allow them to miss a night – they will expect that they can do it again.

Q: My son enjoys his nightly routine, which includes brushing before bedtime. If we’re out late, he falls asleep in the car and if I wake him up, he won’t be able to fall back asleep. Are there alternatives to brushing late at night?

A: If your family plans to be out late, take your son’s toothbrush and toothpaste to go. Wherever you are, have him brush after he finishes eating. If you’ve forgotten the toothbrush and toothpaste, simply run a toothbrush along his teeth. However, we don’t suggest you do this often. Proper brushing and flossing is the only way to remove debris in the mouth.

It’s important to brush twice a day, every day to form healthy smiles that last a lifetime! Be sure to always have your kids brush at some point between eating and bedtime. Being tired or lazy is not an excuse!

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