You might think that brushing once a day is okay. If you haven’t had a cavity in a while, you can forget how easily your teeth can begin to decay. Plaque begins forming within hours of food consumption, attracting bacteria in less than twelve hours. These bacteria can become seriously problematic overtime, leading to tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.
Gingivitis is a very common result of plaque buildup at the gum line. The bacteria present cause the soft gum tissues to become inflamed. You might notice that you bleed during brushing or flossing. If left untreated, this gingivitis can turn into periodontitis.
Periodontitis is a serious infection of the gum tissue that leads to bone loss around the affected tooth. This infection can spread to surrounding teeth where it will erode them over time through a process known as demineralization. Acids released by accumulated plaque demineralize the tooth’s surface, leading to cavities. In a normal mouth, saliva plays a role in preventing cavities by neutralizing the acid produced by the plaque’s bacteria, but when built-up plaque prevents the saliva from contacting the tooth’s surface, it can’t help fight the acid.
Professional checkups and cleanings work to prevent the buildup of plaque and help prevent the decay of a tooth. Going to your dentist every six months for these professional cleanings is extremely important, but your at-home oral hygiene routine is equally important. You should be brushing at least twice a day, and flossing before bedtime. Rinse your mouth following sugary snacks or drinks and change your toothbrush every six weeks.
You are able to effect a real change in the condition of your mouth through your own action or inaction. Make the right choices and focus on beginning and continuing a lifetime habit of good oral hygiene, and you’ll enjoy a lifetime of good oral health.