We are encouraged to brush and floss daily and to see the best dentist for a cleaning and exam twice a year. It may seem like second nature to adopt these vital routines, but what are we actually doing when we brush, floss, and use mouthwash? What is the science behind dental hygiene? What are the actual reasons we adopt these essential routines to preserve our teeth?
The Importance of Dental Hygiene
It was only 130 years ago that Willoughby Miller discovered that microbes in the mouth were responsible for dental decay and recommended daily routines for cleansing the teeth and killing germs.
From Miller’s discovery onward, people have understood the importance of twice-daily brushing and regular dental visits. The main problem dental hygiene seeks to prevent is the development of film on the teeth created by microbes and residue of foods we eat.
These substances create a biofilm often referred to as plaque which can adhere to teeth and gums. Microbes live on this film and release acids that can cause tooth and gum problems. When gums become inflamed, periodontal disease and gingivitis can result. As this condition develops, teeth may weaken and fall out. Also, cavities may form in the teeth if biofilm and microbes are allowed to increase.
The Science of Brushing and Flossing
Brushing is essential because it scrubs away the biofilm and can stimulate the gums to make them healthier. Flossing removes plaque from between the teeth and on the gum line. The American Dental Association recommends spending 2 minutes brushing teeth twice a day.
A soft-bristled brush can scrub the teeth and get between them efficiently. However, for those who are not confident with their brushing method or for children who may just be mastering their brushing technique, an electric toothbrush may be the best option.
In the American Journal of Dental Hygiene, a study showed that electric toothbrushes can substantially reduce plaque. Flossing can also remove plaque from hard-to-reach areas. An anti-microbial mouthwash doesn’t merely make your breath sweeter–it can destroy plaque and kill damaging microbes.
Why Should You See a Dentist Regularly
It is essential to schedule dental appointments every six months for a cleaning and a checkup. In addition to regular routines, a dentist can identify any problems, suggest improvements in dental care, and give a deep, professional cleanse that preserves teeth.
To ensure optimal dental health, schedule an appointment with our professionals at Dental Partners of Boston.