Our dental hygienists work hard to keep our gums and teeth healthy. Because of this, October is the month we recognize all dental hygienists for what they do. Also, we dedicate this month to raise awareness on the importance of good oral health. Taking care of your teeth at home and seeing your hygienist regularly are so important to keep you healthy and protect your valuable teeth.
When we are growing up, we often hear that sugar causes cavities. But it is not the candy alone that causes cavities. Let’s look at how cavities are made and why dental hygiene is so important.
Firstly, we want to talk about biofilm. What is biofilm? Biofilm is a complex microorganism community that contains bacteria and fungi. The microorganisms make and secrete a protective material that attaches the biofilm firmly to a living or non-living surface. Biofilm is alive and has a complex social structure that scientists and engineers are still trying to unravel. Everyone has biofilm in their mouth which develops into dental plaque.
When you eat, bacteria in your mouth feeds on the starches and sugars in the food. This creates acid. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky film that covers the teeth. The acids in plaque remove minerals in your tooth’s hard, outer enamel. This causes tiny openings or holes in the enamel and is how a cavity starts
If plaque is not removed regularly and completely, minerals in your saliva combine with plaque to form crystals that harden into tartar. Tartar also harbors bacteria. Additionally, it creates a protective shield for bacteria and causes irritation along the gum line. This can lead to gum disease. Tartar cannot be removed with regular brushing. You need professional dental cleaning to remove tartar.
The Four Routines
This year the awareness month is focusing on four routines that will help you and your loved ones have healthy smiles.
The ADA recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, for two minutes, with a soft-bristled brush. The size and shape of the brush should fit the mouth allowing you to reach all areas easily.
Flossing is not a step to skip on. It helps get rid of food particles and lowers biofilm below the gum line and in between the teeth that a tooth brush can’t get to.
Rinsing can help wash out bacteria that brushing and flossing cannot. Along with brushing and flossing, rinsing may help reduce the chance of dental decay and infection.
Finally, clinical studies have shown that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes following meals can help prevent tooth decay. The chewing of sugarless gum increases the flow of saliva which helps wash away food. Also, according to ADA org, it neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth and provides disease-fighting substances throughout the mouth. If you prefer gum without any chemicals, Prevention provides a list 8 gums that are not loaded with chemicals and some are sugar free.
Also, since this is the month of October, we want to wish you a Happy Halloween. This is a great time to educate kids about oral hygiene. They can learn that they can enjoy their candy without getting cavities. And you can make it fun. For example, kids love games. Create Halloween games and prizes for every time they do the 4 routines. For example, you can play Halloween tunes while they brush their teeth. Make a “Halloween” board and they can put up Halloween stickers every time they do one of the routines. Be as creative as you want!
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a visit please do not hesitate to contact us.
Tyler M. Christensen, DDS