Have you ever wondered what happens in your mouth when you sleep? Well, in case you haven’t, here’s a refresher course.
First of all, the level of swallowing reduces at night to very few occurrences because of decreased muscle movements. This, in turn, limits the amount of saliva production in the mouth. With decreased saliva levels, the bacteria in the mouth flourish and thrive during those precious sleep hours.
They start acting on the plaque and food particles present in the teeth and gums. Their digestive actions on the food particles produce acids in the mouth, which ultimately act on and damage the tooth enamel and surrounding gum tissues.
For most people, the evidence of this destructive action is a condition known as bad breath, characterized by a foul odor from the mouth just after you wake up. Or, in some cases, a condition known as Oral thrush.
Now, this may sound bad and terrifying, but fortunately, there is a way to prevent this from happening, as you will see later on. This post will provide a general guideline on proper nighttime oral care to help protect your teeth and gums from the harmful effects of bacteria. Keep reading to learn more about these guidelines.
Tips for Night-time Oral Care
Here are some nighttime tips to help you take care of your dental health.
Brush after your last meal
The importance of brushing after your last meal cannot be over-emphasized. For most people, brushing is a habit they perform every morning to get rid of morning breath and routinely clean their teeth in preparation for the day’s meal.
However, brushing should be more than that. By neglecting to brush at night, you allow bacteria to thrive and flourish in your mouth at will. The presence and growth of these bacteria can lead to serious problems, including cavities, periodontal diseases, and a host of other overall health problems.
Nonetheless, when you brush after your meal, you deny these bacteria the chance to grow and damage your teeth and gum, which in turn promotes your dental and overall health.
Brush the right way
In this day and age, it’s not enough to just brush your teeth casually at night; rather, it’s essential that you brush the right way. For people using manual toothbrushes, the right way involves spending at least 2 minutes brushing your teeth.
This brushing time can be further divided into 30 seconds in each quadrant of the mouth. Moreover, when you brush, brush at a 45- degree angle to the gum line. Use vertical and circular motions to remove food particles and plaque from every corner of the mouth.
Also, while you’re at it, don’t forget to brush your tongue, below your gum line and the back of your teeth. Many people make the common mistake of neglecting these areas, forgetting that bacteria and food particles can also be hiding out there.
Furthermore, sometimes people tend to use extra pressure while brushing in an attempt to scrub their teeth clean of plaque and food particles. If you fall into that category, now is the time to stop. Brushing the teeth with force does not guarantee germ-free teeth but rather sets the stage for a series of problems that come with over brushing, including:
- Receding gums
- Bleeding gums
- Tooth sensitivity
Fortunately, plaque is soft and loose and can easily be removed by gentle brushing motions. But in a situation where the plaque has hardened to the teeth, the easiest way to get rid of it is through professional teeth cleaning and not by brushing too hard.
Alternatively, you can use an electric toothbrush to brush your teeth at night. This option can help you avoid the entire over brushing experience altogether. When you brush at night, brush 20 minutes after your last meal if you have a close bedtime. Or twice if you sleep rather late from your last meal, once after your meal and again just before you go to bed.
Floss after brushing
You might have heard about the wonders of brushing at night, but don’t forget that flossing is equally as important. Flossing immediately after brushing helps you take care of any food remnant that the brushing process failed to eliminate.
Moreover, by flossing after brushing, you get to rid your teeth of any plaque or tartar formation that might dampen your pearly whites. And while this might seem like too much work, it can save you from visiting the dentist more times than you have to.
Mouthwashes are the unsung heroes of nighttime oral care. They help prevent the mouth from morning breath, giving your mouth a fresh feel when you wake up in the morning. Moreover, therapeutic mouthwash also contains special ingredients that help strengthen the teeth and gums while also preventing certain dental problems.
However, most of the mouthwash sold over the counter are the cosmetic types that are essentially for fresh breath. So, speak with your dentist before buying a mouthwash so that they can give you a prescription for a therapeutic mouthwash.
Beware of Teeth grinding
If you’ve never woken up with a feeling of torn cheek tissue, congratulations, you’re part of the lucky ones. But, for others who have experienced this feeling, don’t fret, it’s a common occurrence for some people, and it’s due to a condition known as teeth grinding.
Teeth grinding is a scenario where you grind your teeth occasionally when you sleep. This can lead to worn tooth enamel, torn cheek tissue, and even increased teeth sensitivity. If you’ve experienced these symptoms, you should speak to your dentist immediately.
And while your dentist may not prevent you from grinding your teeth, they can give you a mouth guard to wear during your bedtime. This should be sufficient to stop you from grinding your teeth any further during your sleep.
The importance of nighttime oral care cannot be overstated. By brushing your teeth properly and adhering to the tips in this post, you can properly protect your teeth and gums from common dental problems and other overall health problems.
Nonetheless, if you have any further questions about tips for proper nighttime oral care, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Our dental team at Sheppard village dental would be happy to answer any questions you might have and even schedule a consultation for you should the need arise.