We’ve all heard it from the time we were toddlers, but few of us heed the advice consistently – brush and floss twice a day, morning and night. While many of us can claim we stick to this routine as far as brushing goes, how many of us can say the same for flossing? When your Idaho Falls dentist asks you the last time you flossed your teeth, can you really even remember?
What’s more, how many of us actually brush our teeth correctly every time?
- When you brush your teeth, you need to do so lightly; brushing too hard can actually damage the enamel – the hard, protective outer layer of the tooth.
- Brush in slow, circular motions, making sure to reach the gumline (you want to clear off plaque that may be lingering there).
- Get all four major areas of the teeth – front, back, the flat surfaces, and in-between. To get between your teeth, hold the toothbrush vertically and brush up and down so that the bristles make their way in-between the teeth.
- Floss before you brush. (This clears out chunks of plaque that fall around in your mouth while flossing.)
- Mouthwash is never a bad finishing touch.
And don’t forget to schedule regular appointments at your Idaho Falls dental clinic.
Foods & Drinks That Are Hard On Your Teeth
Notice we didn’t say “foods and drinks to avoid” – the reason being that it’s unlikely to expect someone to cut these out of their diet all for the sake of oral hygiene. But it’s important to remember that these are difficult on your teeth and to rinse your mouth and don’t forget to brush/floss after consuming them.
- Acidic food
- Many dairy products
- Soda (and other sweet beverages like apple juice)
- Foods high in protein
- Processed foods
- Fresh meats (corned beef, turkey)
- Many fruits and fruit juices
- Dried fruit
- Potato chips
- Sour candy
- Ice (it’s best to avoid chewing ice)
How & Why Plaque Hurts Your Teeth
Plaque is acidic and filled with bacteria. In fact, plaque is an acid that results when carbohydrates from the food that you eat combine with the bacteria that naturally lives in your mouth.
- If plaque is left to sit on your teeth too long, it begins eating away at them. This begins with the enamel, then moves into the dentin. Once a hole is worn away in the dentin, you officially have a cavity.
- If left untreated, plaque will eventually begin to infect the tooth pulp – the soft, fleshy core that contains the tooth nerve – leading to pulpitis. This causes the pulp to swell, putting pressure on the tooth nerve and cutting off its blood supply. This can ultimately lead to the death of the tooth.
- Finally, an abscess will form. This is an inflamed pocket of pus that usually resembles a pimple on the gumline.
No matter what stage of tooth decay you are in, your Idaho Falls dentist at Wellness Biodentistry can help.
Plaque doesn’t just hurt your teeth. Have you ever heard of periodontal disease? If not, you’ve most likely heard of gum disease – they’re the same thing.
Periodontal disease often occurs due to a lack of flossing, allowing plaque to infect the gums. When this happens, the body releases a hormone that causes the gums to become inflamed. (Inflammation is just one of the body’s many defenses against infection and damage.)
The early stage of periodontal disease is called gingivitis (there’s another name you’ve probably heard). Gingivitis is reversible, but you’ll need to act fast. First, you have to recognize gingivitis when it happens. Watch for these signs:
- Excessive bleeding when you brush your teeth,
- Mild irritation when brushing your teeth,
- Gum discoloration (usually red or purple),
- Puffy or swollen gums,
- Gum recession,
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis).
Your Idaho Falls dentist can perform a number of treatments for gingivitis that can help treat and reverse the damage, but if left untreated, it can develop into the advanced stage of periodontal disease called periodontitis. Symptoms of periodontitis are much the same as gingivitis, but with the following additions:
- Pus between the teeth and gums,
- Shifting teeth (due to advanced gum recession),
- Tooth loss,
- Pain when chewing.
Unfortunately, periodontitis is not reversible, although it is still treatable. Your Idaho Falls dentist may refer you to a periodontist (a dentist who specializes in periodontal disease and who can perform more in-depth surgical procedures on the gums).
Dental Decay & Gum Disease Can Lead To Serious Health Problems
Many Idaho Falls dentists – especially those specializing in holistic dentistry – understand that oral problems are rarely local to the mouth alone. Serious health problems can occur from advanced forms of dental decay and gum disease, including heart attack and stroke.
The connection is the bloodstream – plaque and bacteria from the mouth have easy access to the bloodstream, especially when problems occur that lead to easy bleeding.
Plaque is the main factor of concern in heart disease, and Streptococcus mutans (the main bacteria in your mouth) has been seen in larger amounts in those who have suffered from hemorrhagic stroke and cerebral microbleeds.
See this blog post for more information on the connection between oral problems and serious health concerns.