Tooth brushing and chewing of stick and sponge are necessities for oral hygiene and good oral health.
Dentists advise that a person must brush his or her teeth at least twice a day; early in the morning and the last thing before going to bed in the evening.
Good brushing techniques are equally necessary for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
In this article, my focus is on making bedtime tooth brushing a habit. I dedicate the article to my dentists, Dr Bridget Boakye (Dr B.B) of the Achimota Hospital and Dr Hubert Hounkpatin of Ada East District Hospital, who taught me a lot about oral health in general and the relevance of good brushing techniques.
Bedtime tooth brushing is as important as brushing one’s teeth in the morning. As such, tooth brushing especially before bedtime at night must be made a habit.
Children must also be trained to learn this habit. I dare say from my layman’s perspective that bedtime tooth brushing might even be more important than tooth brushing early in the morning. This assertion is without any iota of prejudice to the relevance of brushing the teeth in the morning.
A child brushing his teeth before going to bed
During the day, we eat various foods, including but not limited to sweets and carbohydrates. Consistently, acid builds up in the mouth, but in the daytime as one talks or sings, saliva neutralises the acid.
Going to bed without brushing your teeth means the teeth will be covered in bacteria the entire night. Bacteria digest the food remnants on the teeth and under the gums and the by-product is acid production, which damages tooth enamel and leads to cavities.
Said bluntly, a bacterial festivity goes on at night in the mouth of a person who did not brush his or her teeth at bedtime. The bacterial activity in the mouth, thus, produces mouth odour.
As indicated earlier, saliva helps protect your teeth from being damaged by acids during the day. However, when sleeping, the body produces less saliva, causing the mouth to become dry. A dry mouth increases the risk of cavities when going to bed without brushing.
Chewing stick can also be effective in oral health
Almost every toothpaste contains some level of fluoride. As such, once you brush your teeth at bedtime, the fluoride content of your mouth will maintain the saliva level in the mouth, preventing any damage caused due to the bacterial activity.
Also, whenever we eat foods containing high fibre, tiny particles get stuck in the teeth, which may not even be noticeable. If these tiny particles stay in the mouth, they attract bacteria that can cause a cavity.
Brushing the teeth at night can help clear out these tiny particles of food from your mouth as a way of keeping the bacteria away.
Cultivating and maintaining bedtime tooth brushing, therefore, helps prevent the build-up of plaque in the long run. Plaque is the yellow substance that settles in your teeth and makes them look dirty.
It can also lead to various other dental issues if not dealt with timely. Hence, just brushing the teeth at night can save you many expensive dental visits in the long run. So even if you feel tired before bedtime, push yourself for five more minutes and make sure you brush your teeth thoroughly before going to bed.
It is equally good to improve oral hygiene by using approved mouthwash. Mouthwash does not only give you fresh breath but also gives you a therapeutic mouth rinse that strengthens the teeth and gums. Advisedly, therefore, rinsing your mouth with a therapeutic mouthwash at bedtime will help keep your teeth free from plaque and cavities. The gums will also be safe from gingivitis (gum disease).
Toothbrushing must go together with dental flossing and mouth washing. Flossing removes bacteria from in between the teeth and under the gums since a toothbrush cannot always reach in between the teeth.
To this end, I encourage everyone reading this article to make bedtime tooth brushing a habit. Parents should not only make bedtime tooth brushing a habit but also inculcate it in their children since a habit formed from childhood is difficult to abandon.