Dental Hygiene and Periodontal Health
If you’ve visited a dentist before, you’ve probably heard the rote speeches that try to encourage you to brush and floss your teeth more often. As a patient, though, it’s quite common to have lingering doubts about the efficacy of such daily oral hygiene efforts. After all, how important are clean teeth to a person’s oral health? Can forgetting to brush your teeth really be so dangerous? Are there alternative ways to prevent oral health issues from developing?
To answer these questions and shed more light on the logic behind the sales pitch, Dr. Allen Gotora from Stellar Dental in Maryland will explain some of the reasons why you shouldn’t neglect your dental hygiene.
Why is dental hygiene important?
To understand why oral hygiene is so crucial, knowing a bit about how common oral health problems develop can be helpful. We’ll discuss two of the most frequently diagnosed dental conditions, which are:
You’ve probably heard the phrase “sugar will rot your teeth” at some point, and though this statement isn’t totally true for reasons we’ll explain below, it does describe tooth decay, a problem that plagues a significant portion of the population. Tooth decay (more scientifically known as “dental caries”) describes the situation in which bacteria strains like Streptococcus mutans, attracted to leftover food in the mouth, slowly break down the surface of the tooth. Eventually, cavities will form where the bacteria is concentrated, causing pain, heat sensitivity, and weakness in the area.
Like tooth decay, gum disease is also caused by bacteria, albeit concentrated in a different area. This is because the bacteria that lingers in the mouth after a meal doesn’t just wash away over time. Instead, the bacteria will eventually form first a sticky film and then a hardened layer of what dentists call “dental plaque.” The story doesn’t just end there, though. Over time, as the plaque buildup grows, the bacteria will irritate and inflame the gums, causing infection to set in. Left untreated, this relatively mild form of gum disease can spread deeper and deeper into the gums, causing problems with the gums, tooth roots, and even the jawbone.
As you’ve probably noticed, a common factor in both cases is the bacteria. It is the growth and spread of bacteria colonies in the mouth that causes both tooth decay and gum disease. A logical assumption to make, then, is that getting rid of this bacteria will decrease the probability of contracting either of the two oral health issues mentioned above.
And, as dentists like Dr. Gotora have discovered, this assumption isn’t just logically sound, it’s experientially proven. Good oral hygiene that flushes as much bacteria as possible from the mouth can be an extremely effective way to prevent the majority of tooth-related problems from developing. Rather than treating these issues after they manifest, dental hygiene essentially prevents them from starting in the first place. As such, oral hygiene is an excellent preventative measure, which is why dentists recommend it so adamantly.
How can I make sure my oral hygiene measures are sufficient?
But are brushing and flossing really that important? Perhaps surprisingly, the answer is a definitive yes because these two short and simple habits are extraordinarily good at cleaning out the mouth.
Toothbrush bristles, for example, are thin enough to cover most of the surfaces of a tooth (and whatever gaps they can’t reach, a piece of floss can clean out just as well). Combined with a fluoride toothpaste, your toothbrush is powerful enough both to scrub the malignant bacteria and food residue from the mouth and to remineralize the protective enamel on your teeth.
Brushing your teeth, then, is a preventative strategy in two separate ways: It both removes the source of the problem, and strengthens your body’s natural defenses in case that first function wasn’t enough.
Of course, there are things you could do to supplement your daily oral hygiene routine. For example, many patients (particularly those susceptible to cavity formation) also use mouthwashes and special toothpastes to make sure their teeth stay clean and healthy. For the most part, though, just making sure to brush and floss every day can be sufficient to keep most oral health problems at bay between dental visits.
Regular dental visits are also crucial. Not only does your dentist check to make sure your teeth are healthy, he or she (or a dental hygienist at the practice) will also give your teeth a thorough, professional cleaning to hit the spots that you might not have known you were missing.
If you haven’t had this kind of cleaning done in a while, simply schedule an appointment as soon as possible with a dentist like Dr. Allen Gotora. You can contact Stellar Dental in Maryland by phone at (301) 754-1900 or via our website to set up a time today!