Beyond Brushing: What To Do Before Bed Every Night

by Dr. Follette

Brushing isn’t the only nighttime oral care activity that maintains healthy gums, strong teeth, and a great smile. Carol E. Follette DDS, a well-respected Santa Monica dentist, has additional suggestions for cleaning your mouth and ridding it of bacteria before bed.


For most people, flossing is easier if they brush their teeth first. Flossing allows you to reach the plaque and food particles that your toothbrush can’t, and doing it at least once a day is a great way to prevent periodontal (gum) disease. Proper flossing requires winding an 18-inch strand around your middle fingers and then holding the floss firmly with your thumbs and forefingers. Gently guide the floss between your teeth, rubbing back and forth against each tooth as you go from one to the next. When you get to the top of each tooth, slide the floss between the gum and the tooth and continue the gentle rubbing motion. This is where a lot of plaque buildup occurs, because the average toothbrush struggles to penetrate these places. Continue flossing until you’ve flossed between every tooth, including the backsides of the furthest teeth on the top and bottom.


After brushing and flossing, rinse your mouth for around two minutes with a therapeutic mouthwash. This is an excellent way to maintain plaque-free/cavity-free teeth and prevent gingivitis, as well as maintaining fresh breath. Mouthwash shouldn’t be considered a replacement for brushing and flossing, but as a very useful complement. From a scientific perspective, the human body produces less saliva during sleep, and consequently the mouth becomes dry. In lieu of saliva, which naturally mitigates cavity-causing acids and bacteria, mouthwash is effective because it has similar cavity-preventing properties but won’t wash away during sleep.

Many different mouthwashes, some over-the-counter and some prescription-based, are available depending on a person’s specific needs. For example, an antiseptic rinse like Listerine fights plaque and bacteria and helps combat gingivitis. A fluoride rinse such as ACT is more geared towards reducing tooth sensitivity and remineralizing enamel so that cavities are kept at bay.

Prevent Teeth-Grinding 

Signs that a person grinds their teeth during sleep include damaged cheek tissue, heightened tooth sensitivity, and a wearing-out of tooth enamel. If your mouth exhibits these signs, make an appointment with our local dentist and let’s discuss making you a mouth guard. There’s no magic substance that can stop a person from grinding their teeth while sleeping, but a mouth guard is proven to protect teeth from grinding damage during sleep.

Drink Water 

Earlier on we mentioned how the body decreases saliva production during sleep. Drinking a healthy amount of water before going to bed is a terrific way to cleanse your mouth of bacteria, food particles, and oral acid. Also, the water retained by the body during sleep will help counteract the “drying effect” that takes place in the mouth. Drinking lots of water isn’t just important at night: doing it throughout the day provides a significant boost to overall oral health.

Choose Us For All Your Dental Needs 

As a family dentist with decades of experience and a multitude of capabilities, Carol E. Follette is a top choice for people seeking Santa Monica dental care. Call us today to make an appointment with our friendly team.