While it is important to have regular visits to your dentist and keep a healthy diet, that’s only half of the battle. The time between dental visits is crucial to your dental care. A lot is happening to your teeth while you are peacefully sleeping. But, there are some simple nighttime dental care tips to maintain your teeth and gums healthy throughout the night.
#1. Cleaning Your Teeth at Night
It may sound evident, however, a large amount of Americans neglect brushing their teeth at night. This actually means that these people are cutting their home dental care in half. When you sleep, you don’t swallow. Your mouth doesn’t produce the same amount of saliva, like it does during the day. Without nighttime brushing, you allow the bacteria accumulated during the day to grow and destroy the surface of your teeth. So, brushing before you sleep protects your teeth from plaque, decay and gum diseases. If you have a long interval between your dinner and sleep, it is recommended to brush your teeth twice: after having dinner and right before going to bed.
Choose toothbrushes with soft bristles and a toothpaste with fluoride. An electric toothbrush with rotating-oscillating head is also a good choice. It helps remove plaque more effectively while applying less effort. If you have doubts about your teeth brushing technique, watch this short video from the American Dental Association on how to brush your teeth.
#2. Flossing to Remove All Plaque
With a toothbrush, you can’t reach all the plaque. If plaque remains between the teeth, the bacteria increase and feed off it when you are sleeping. Flossing enables you to remove plaque when it is soft. As soon as the plaque hardens and transforms to a tartar, only a professional cleaning can help remove it. So, flossing at least once a day (preferably, before a night sleep) should be an integral part of your daily oral hygiene. If you are susceptible to gum diseases and excessive tartar creation, it is recommended to floss your teeth twice a day.
The American Dental Association recommends using a18-inch-long floss strand and winding it around your middle fingers – this helps manage floss as it becomes dirty. Then, hold the remaining part of floss between thumbs and forefingers and floss gently with rubbing motions. Flossing should be done with care, because improper flossing can cause a serious damage to gums and teeth, resulting in different mouth infections. For more detailed instructions, watch the ADA video tutorial on how to floss your teeth properly.
#3. Rinsing Your Mouth With Mouthwash
The third basic step of your nighttime dental care is rinsing your mouth with a mouthwash. Applying mouthwashes at night helps eliminate bacteria, prevent the creation of plaque and cavities as well as save your gums from gingivitis while you are sleeping. Choose therapeutic mouthwashes over the cosmetic ones. The latter ones are designed to mask your bad breath and are not effective in your daily oral hygiene.
Most mouthwashes are sold over-the-counter, but there are some that may need prescription. In general, mouthwashes cannot provide any harm to your teeth, but in some conditions it may cause problems. Consult with your dentist, which mouthwash is best for your situation.
#4. Struggling with Night Grinding
If you are suffering from night grinding (also called “bruxism”), it is essential to figure out the reasons and ways to protect your teeth. Apart from severe headaches, tooth and jaw pain, teeth grinding increases tooth sensitivity and destroys your teeth enamel over time. Bruxism is a common problem in many children. A lot of factors can lead children to teeth grinding, such as bad bite, stress or brain traumas. Dentists can’t stop you or your children from grinding (because usually it has a psychosomatic origin or can be a consequence of a hyperactivity disorder), but they can prescribe a mouth guard to wear at night as well as provide with some tips to reduce sleep grinding and painful symptoms.
A night guard is a transparent device fitted over the biting surface of your teeth when you are sleeping. It prevents your upper and lower teeth surfaces from grinding against each other. The benefits of having a night guard are tangible. A night guard prevents migraine and other types of headaches as well as helps prevent jaw disorders, especially the development of TMD (temporomandibular disorder). Night guards also protect your crowns or bridgework. Cosmetic dentistry, such as porcelain veneers or bonding, should always be protected by a night guard.
#5. Preventing Bad Morning Breath
Waking up with bad breath in the morning is a common thing, as your mouth goes into a “rest mode” while you’re sleeping. Moreover, people who take certain medications are more prone to unpleasant morning breath. Bad breath is associated with a lack of saliva at night, and it is not possible to completely avoid it. However, if you keep a proper nighttime dental care, you have more chances to wake up with slight mouth breath in the morning. Brushing, scraping your tongue, flossing, mouth washing before going to bed helps clean your mouth and get rid of debris and bacteria that are responsible for a bad odor from your mouth.
The way you sleep can also influence your morning breath. Snoring and breathing through the mouth increases the possibility of bad breath. The explanation is simple: when your mouth is open, this reduces the amount of saliva, letting bacteria to flourish in the mouth. Be aware that gingivitis and periodontitis can be causes of bad breath as well. Have your dental check-ups timely to define the possible dental problem at early stages.
During your appointment at Elite Dentistry of Simi Valley we take the time to go over any questions you may have about your nighttime dental care.
All people have their own nighttime rituals: reading a book, taking a shower, applying anti-age cream, etc. Making proper oral hygiene a part of your daily routine is the only way to prolong the beauty of your smile. With our nighttime dental care tips, you can continue to sleep in peace while being able to give your teeth good protection from the monsters of the night – bacteria.