The Truth About What Happens If You Don’t Brush Your Teeth

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What happens if you don’t brush your teeth regularly?

Hopefully, you have never had to discover the answer to this question through personal experience. Let us get one thing clear right from the start: What happens if you don’t brush your teeth on a regular basis is something to be avoided at all cost.

So, what happens if you don’t stick to a good oral hygiene routine? Take a look at some of the key areas that a lack of care of your teeth could result in.

These are the poor oral health outcomes you can expect if you stop brusing your teeth

Bad breath

One of the first tell-tale signs of poor oral health is bad breath. 

The bacteria that accumulates in your mouth as a result of lingering food particles will quickly begin to fester and smell. It sounds disgusting, and it is! 

But if you brush and floss every day, bad breath alongside more serious oral health conditions like gum disease, tooth decay and tooth loss can rather easily be averted.

Tooth decay and tooth loss

Bad oral hygiene leads to reduced oral health, which in turn leads to tooth decay and tooth loss.

The most important thing toothbrushing does is removing plaque, which is the sticky, bacteria-filled film coating the teeth. 

If you don’t brush your teeth every day, the bacteria-filled plaque can cause long-term damage to both your teeth and gums. This is how it happens: Plaque and tartar can slowly erode and eventually penetrate the protective enamel of your teeth. Once this happens, infection can quickly spread all the way to the insides of the tooth, including the roots.

If you don’t treat an early-stage cavity, you will soon have a much more serious tooth infection to deal with. Depending on how far progressed the decay is by the time it is detected, you may need fillings, a root canal followed by a dental crown, or a tooth extraction to prevent the infection from spreading from the tooth roots to your gums, jaw bone and even your blood stream.

Gingivitis and periodontal disease (aka. gum disease and bone infection)

Various forms of gum disease is one of the most apparent health issues caused by poor dental health and hygiene habits.

Gingivitis is the unpleasant gum condition behind bad breath and bleeding, inflamed gums. If your gums are very red, sensitive, bleed often, or you notice that they are receding, you might have gingivitis.

It is important to spot and treat gingivitis in time, as it is the first step on the way towards periodontitis, a much more serious deep tissue and bone infection which is the leading cause of tooth loss and in some cases lead to life-threatening health problems, usually in the form of serious infections and heart-related conditions.

Aoorixmately 60 to 75% of pregnant women experience gingivitis, not as a result of poor oral hygiene, but due to hormonal fluctuations. For this reason, pregnant women should be even more vigilant about maintaining their oral hygiene habits.


As you go about your day, you will inevitably inhale airborne bacteria from your mouth, which can cause respiratory infections. 

It goes without saying that if your mouth is full of bacteria-filled plaque because you haven’t brushed your teeth, you will ihale much more bacteria and have a much higher likelihood of developing pneumonia and other respiratory issues.

Oral cancer

Another potential risk of a lack of oral hygiene is developing oral cancer.

Research indicates that poor oral health might be a contributing factor in the formation of many oral cancers. Periodontal disease may, in and of itself, promote the growth of cells in the mouth.

Heart problems

In the worst case scenario, tooth decay and gingivitis that remain untreated can cause heart disease, which may ultimately lead to heart failure and death.

Frequently asked questions

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

Most likely, the oral and other health problems you will develop within the first few months of not brushing your teeth will have killed you long before you make it to, say, three years of not brushing your teeth at all.

Not brushing your teeth is associated with numerous very serious health risks – and they go far beyond mere cavities. If you stop brushing your teeth, the various bacteria found in plaque will very quickly begin to erode your enamel, which is the hard, protective material that shields your teeth from infection and decay. Once your tooth enamel has been sufficiently weakened, dental infections become inevitable. Untreated cavities will, without fail, develop into abscesses and eventual tooth loss.

You also have your gums to consider. If you no longer remove plaque from your gums on a regular basis, it will keep building up and the bacteria secreted by the plaque buildup will irritate and inflame your gums, eventually leading to gum disease and from there, bone infection that can spread to the jaw, other facial bones and skull. This type of infection can ultimately become life-threatening.

Numerous other health problems are going to develop in addition to the oral health issues mentioned above. Respiratory conditions from inhaling too much bacteria, susceptibility to oral cancer, and heart disease are just a few of the nasty experiences you have in store if you stop brushing your teeth for months or years.

Can your teeth survive without brushing?

Ultimately, probably no.

There are horrible consequences both in the short and in the long term if you stop brushing your teeth. Initially, you will quickly develop cavities, bad breath and irritated gums, and if that doesn’t spur you on to brush your teeth, the health issues you will develop include gum disease, tooth loss, serious bone infection and heart problems. In other words, it is only a matter of time and a question of which of these serious health conditions would kill you first.

How long can you go without brushing teeth?

If you mean how long can you go without brushing your teeth before you develop cavities, the answer is only about a week. 

Of course, it can vary from person to person, but if you are someone with weak teeth enamel and you are already prone to cavities, a week may be all it takes for plaque to infect your teeth.

Final thought

The importance of taking good care of your oral health and hygiene cannot be emphasised enough.

Most people tend to grossly underestimate the impact that proper oral care – or the lack thereof – can have on their overall health. But several studies have concluded that people who brush their teeth at least 2 times a day and keep up with their regular dentist appointments are less likely to experience atrial fibrillation and heart-related complication, including heart failure.

Taking great care of your teeth is relatively simple. The cornerstones of excellent oral hygiene are brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, flossing once a day, using a fluoridated toothpaste and an electric toothbrush.

Using the correct brushing technique is also important, as an overly forceful approach can erode your enamel, eventually breaking it down and leaving your teeth without sufficient protection against cavity-causing bacteria. 

Other ways to protect your enamel include; limiting your intake of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, quitting smoking, and drinking acid, sweet and alcoholic beverages through a straw to minimize contact with teeth. 

All in all, it is vital that you take your oral health seriously. Fortunately, there are plenty of dentists as well as online resources that can teach you everything you need to know about how to take excellent care of your oral health and hygiene

Dr Febin Mary George - Editor

With more than 10 years as a dental surgeon, Dr Febin Mary George is passionate about educating consumers around the world to help look after their teeth.

She completed her Bachelor of Surgery at the Century Institute of Dental Science and Research Centre in 2010.

Alongside editing the International Journal of Dental Clinics she has also written for major publications including Thrive Global.