I am often asked, "Why do I get so many cavities? I brush and floss all the time."
I can think of one couple in particular where they wonder why this is the case. The husband says that he brushes and flosses much more than his wife. She never has any issues at each bi-annual exam whereas he on the other hand always has a new problem every time we see him. There is much more to it than the frequency of brushing and flossing.
I tell my patients that there are three main factors that will determine their short-term and long-term outcome with their oral health. 1. Oral hygiene, 2. Diet, 3. Habits. Lets look at these a little more carefully.
Obviously oral hygiene is incredibly important. I see decay in mouths everyday that could have been prevented by simply having good oral hygiene.
I tell many of my patients that they need to brush and floss better. Sometimes they'll get defensive and say, "I do brush and floss regularly". I certainly don't want to argue with them, but I see that even though they brush and floss regularly, they certainly aren't doing an adequate job. They tell me this as I see a ton of plaque on their teeth.
Yes, frequently brushing is vitally important. I recommend brushing in the morning and prior to bed. In addition, I also recommend brushing after each meal. Most of the damage to the teeth will occur within the first 20 minutes. So, I suggest that brushing within 20 minutes is optimal.
In addition to frequent hygiene, thoroughness is equally important. I prefer electric toothbrushes because they are much more effective at removing plaque than manual toothbrushes. They remove plaque in areas that the bristles do not make contact with. Another benefit is that they are much more gentle than manual toothbrushes. We therefore avoid damage or trauma to the teeth and gums. Some people are too aggressive with manual toothbrushes.
Only 5% of the population flosses on a regular basis. This is a sad statistic. By flossing frequently, we can prevent cavities that commonly form in between the teeth. Also, by removing the plaque below the gumline, we can significantly decrease our risk to developing gingivitis or periodontitis.
Have your dentist or hygienist show you proper brushing and flossing techniques. If you aren't doing it correctly, then you aren't getting the most benefit possible.
In the next segment of this blog, we will discuss diet.
Dr. Cisneros maintains a practice in Freeburg and Columbia, IL. Both are in the Greater St Louis, MO area. For more information on a wide variety of subjects, please visit www.advanced-smiles.com.