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Can Not Brushing Your Teeth Make You Sick?

As dentists, we recommend brushing your teeth twice a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. But can you get sick from not brushing your teeth? If you forgot your toothbrush for an overnight stay, a day isn't likely to derail your oral health. But, consistently not brushing your teeth increases your risk of getting sick and damaging your teeth.

Side Effects of Not Brushing Your Teeth

If you don't brush enough, plaque and tartar build-up on your teeth. Plaque is bacteria build-up that forms a sticky film on your teeth. Eventually, plaque can harden into tartar that can't be removed with regular brushing. This leads to tooth damage and bacterial infections. A few different side effects of not brushing your teeth include:

Bad Breath

If you don't clean your teeth, your breath may smell pretty ripe. This is caused by food particles and bacteria building up on your teeth and tongue. In dentistry, bad breath is called halitosis. Brushing helps remove these particles and bacteria for fresher breath.

Tooth Decay

When you don't scrub plaque away, bacteria feast on sugars in your mouth, producing acids that erode your tooth enamel. As a result, lingering plaque on your teeth can lead to cavities and toothaches.

Gum Disease

Plaque, tartar, and bacteria build-up near your gum line can cause inflamed and bleeding gums (aka gingivitis). Gingivitis is an early stage of gum disease that causes pain, bad breath, and hot and cold sensitivity if left untreated.


Gingivitis can eventually lead to periodontitis. This severe bacterial infection is caused by bacteria and tartar in the gums. Periodontitis can permanently damage the bones supporting your teeth and eventually lead to tooth loss.

Longterm Health Risks of Not Brushing Your Teeth

Oral health affects your overall health. If you skip brushing long-term or have untreated tooth decay or gingivitis, other health risks include:

  • Heart disease: Gum disease increases your risk of having a heart attack, stroke, or heart disease.
  • Pneumonia: Tooth decay can eventually move to the lungs, increasing your risk of developing pneumonia. This is more likely if you have a weakened immune system.
  • Blood sugar control: People with diabetes are more susceptible to gum disease, which can also make it more difficult to control blood sugar.
  • Pregnancy complications: Pregnant women are more likely to develop gingivitis. If left untreated, gum disease can increase the risk of low birth weight and preterm birth.

Ready to Schedule A Dental Cleaning?

If you're worried you have bad teeth from not brushing, Dentologie is here to help. Dentologie locations throughout the Chicago area offer cleanings and preventative services for a healthy smile. Our compassionate dentists won't judge your brushing habits as they clean your teeth or treat dental issues.

Book your visit today!

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