Brushing, Flossing and the Secret to Oral Health

"I know I have to, but it's too much work." 
"But I brush really well every day, 3 times a day. So do I have to?"
"Yes I floss! I floss when food gets stuck in between, only."
"I can't get to my back teeth so I don't floss those."

These are some common responses my patients give me when I ask "so do you floss daily?"

Only brush the teeth you want to keep - is the wise saying of old times. But really, you must brush and floss the teeth you want to keep. This may be news to some, so I invite you to unlock the secret behind it all by continuing to read.

Plaque, as we all know, the white fuzzy stuff that grows on your teeth, especially when you eat, is basically bacteria. To be more precise, it is 95%-98% bacteria, the rest being minerals. This plaque sticks to the surfaces of your teeth including the surfaces you don't see, like in between your teeth and under your gum pockets. But not all bacteria is bad. 

Bacteria seems to gain power to cause damage as it gets older. We naturally have an endless supply of bacteria living in our mouth. So it's ok to have bacteria. Just don't let it stay on your teeth and tongue for a prolonged period of time. Clean it, and keep your bacteria supply fresh.

The yellow-brown surrounding the tooth
along the gums is old plaque turned into
hard calculus/tartar.This could have easily
been prevented, at least minimized, with 
daily correct brushing and flossing.
A good portion of my patients claim brushing very well but gums still bleeding. This is either because they need a deep cleaning due to existing periodontal disease, and/or lack of flossing - which cleans in between teeth and under the gums. 

Think of it as cleaning/vacuuming your home. Some corners of your home will remain dusty because your vacuum head is simply too large to get in between the nooks and crannies, or under the rugs. So you need a smaller tip or attachment to clean those areas. Floss to your teeth and gums is like the specialized smaller attachments for your vacuum.

Your floss will fit under your gums to however deep it is. Once 
you get it in carefully, just scoop out the bad boys with the floss.
We need to floss out the bacteria from in between our teeth and under the gums which surround every tooth in our mouths. 

So what is the big secret in maintaining good oral hygiene? It is 24 hours. Once bacteria lives past 24hours, it cultures a sticky matrix on your teeth called the biofilm. It makes it easier for more harmful bacteria to grow, and eventually cause cavities and severe cases of gum disease. This is how you get gum swelling/bleeding - or inflammation - and research shows it contributes to Coronary Artery Disease, Alzheimers, Low Birth Weight Babies, Diabetes, and more. 

The basic requirement to a beautiful smile, crisp breath, and healthy lifestyle? Good 24hr-daily oral hygiene routine. Happy Brushing and Flossing!

Dr. Hyun S. Bang, D.D.S. Doctor of Dental Surgery Loma Linda University 2008

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