If you eat right before bed and don't brush your teeth afterwards, you're negatively affecting your oral health. Of course, one or two nights like this won't hurt, but making such behaviour a regular habit can lead to an increased risk of decay. Here are just a few reasons why.
Bacteria Attacks Your Enamel
Actually, to say that bacteria attacks your enamel is a bit misleading; bacteria has nothing against your teeth, but its natural excretions will harm them. You see, oral bacteria metabolises any food particles left over when you have a meal – they like feeding on what we consume. Here's where it gets a little gross: like other living organisms, bacteria excrete after consuming. They excrete onto your teeth, and what they excrete is highly acidic. We're talking acidic enough to gradually dissolve tooth enamel and increase your risk of tooth decay.
When you eat after your evening brushing session, nothing washes that bacteria's food source away, so it excretes all night. Even relatively large pieces of food can get trapped between your teeth during the night, and bacteria will feast on it.
Plaque Is Allowed to Calcify
One of the main reasons you brush is to get rid of plaque. If you eat between brushing your teeth and going to get, more plaque develops. Since you'll probably go at least eight hours without brushing again, plaque has a chance to calcify, hardening against the surface of your teeth. Calcified plaque is known as tartar. It often develops around and below the gum line, which can lead to receding gums and gum disease.
Once tartar forms, you can't remove it with a toothbrush. It can only be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist using specialist equipment.
Saliva Production Drops Off
People often fail to appreciate just how important a role saliva plays in their oral health. You see, saliva is not just a neutral liquid that helps keep your mouth lubricated. Actually, it contains compounds and minerals designed to control oral pH levels, digest food particles and remineralise your teeth. Essentially, saliva is one of your body's most important weapons against tooth decay.
Unfortunately, saliva production drops off when you sleep. That's partly because you aren't stimulating salivary flow by moving and using your mouth and partly a natural reaction to your reduced energy levels. In any case, your body won't be as well-equipped to fight plaque and bacteria. If you eat right before sleeping and after brushing, you'll essentially be feeding the enemy while putting your own defences on standby.