You may of heard from your dentist or hygienist about the importance of brushing your teeth effectively. This is because our mouths are havens for all kinds of bacteria and over the course of day, we add more bacteria. This can be through drinking, eating, kissing, or even using our mouths to hold/bite items e.g keys, chewing on pen tops, biting finger nails. All of these can contribute to the bacteria that is in our mouths.
Why Is Bacteria Bad?
Our mouths are made up of good bacteria and bad bacteria.
The good bacteria is important, because it helps us during the start of digestion, by helping to break down the proteins and sugars. It also helps to control our bad breath. Bad breath (or halitosis) is caused when there is a build up of bad bacteria. The good bacteria works to neutralise this and create a healthy balance between the two. Good bacteria also helps with protecting our teeth against cavities. When we have food particles in our mouths, it acts as a breeding ground for the bad bacteria. If left, it starts to attack our teeth and eat away at them, which causes the cavities.
This is when the good bacteria comes into play, by stimulating the saliva production. Our saliva is the natural way our mouths will fight back, by washing away the food particles, bad bacteria and acid.
But as you can imagine, relying on our mouths to do this is not the best way to keep our teeth healthy. This forms a part of an additional protection, but should never replace thorough brushing, flossing and using a mouth wash.
So why is the bad Bacteria bad, and what does it mean for our mouths?
It turns the sugar particles in our mouths into acid. This creates an environment for bacteria to thrive and grow, and it offsets the ideal PH balance of our mouths. This is when plaque starts to form on our teeth. With plaque on our teeth, it contains the acid which actively starts to eat away at the enamel. Overtime, this will create holes in the teeth (known as caries or cavities), and this allows bacteria to enter the tooth causing further decay.
Plaque can be removed through conventional brushing and flossing, but if it’s missed or left alone, it will turn into a sticky hard substance known as tartar. This is when you will need a dental professional to have it removed.
Now Tartar is a particular nasty substance that will weaken our teeth and gums. If left untreated, it can turn into periodontal disease (known as gum disease). Symptoms of gum disease can include:
- Bleeding (this can also be caused from brushing too hard)
- Receding gums
- Tooth loss
As your gums start to weaken, you can experience an increased mobility of the teeth, which will eventually lead to tooth loss. This can be quite progressive, as losing a tooth can lead to further tooth loss, which is why it is so important to get this condition under control (to stabilise the mouth and prevent further loss).
Prevention Is Better Than The Cure
Now we have gone on quite a bad case scenario journey with what could happen when bad bacteria is allowed to thrive. It’s because prevention is by far better than the cure for these conditions.
Yes gum disease can be treated, but if you lose one of your natural teeth because of it, no restoration will ever be as good as that missing tooth!
Did you also know that when you have lost a tooth and even if the gum disease has been treated, it can still lead to further tooth loss overtime? This is because you start to experience a thing called bone resorption. Our teeth when eating stimulates healthy bone growth in the jaw. But if you take away that tooth, the bone starts to shrink away from that area of the mouth, which can cause mobility in the surrounding teeth. This can eventually lead to further tooth loss, which can act as a domino effect with your remaining teeth. Now to counteract this, you could consider dental implants, which is considered the gold standard in tooth replacement. The implant integrates with the jaw bone and through eating again, you will stimulate healthy bone growth. This can really help to stabilise this area of the mouth again.
The biggest downside to this all, is the fact it can cost you a lot of time and money to get back to dental health again. Where as, it could all be avoided with an effective oral hygiene routine which breaks down the build up of bad bacteria. It’s a simple solution, but can make the world of difference in looking after your natural teeth for as long as possible.
How To Effectively Look After Your Teeth
There are a couple main elements required every day for an effective oral hygiene routine:
- Use of a mouth wash
It’s important to change your tooth brush or brush head every 3 months. This is because our tooth brushes will build up bacteria as the bristles start to wear, which will diminish the effectiveness of brushing our teeth if we continue to use.
We recommend brushing at least twice a day (morning & night time) for at least two minutes each time. In some countries, they are advocates for brushing after each meal time (which would definitely be a positive thing to do) but we are realists as well and understand this would be difficult for most people. So a minimum of two times, at 2 minutes each is ideal.
Brushing our teeth alone will not remove all the bacteria. For example, the inter proximal spaces (between the teeth) are hard to clean with brushing alone. This is where flossing or using the interdental brushes helps. They can effectively reach these tough to reach areas and remove the build up of bacteria. We recommend doing this at least once a day and if you are unsure about the best way to floss, please do not hesitate to ask the next time you see our hygienists.
This sounds a bit counter intuitive, but its important to not use mouth wash or to rinse your mouth straight after brushing your teeth. This is because if you are using a fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash and water can rinse away the beneficial effects. That being said, you could use a mouth wash at the start of your morning or evening oral hygiene routine or even at a different point in your day.
Using a mouthwash can help reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth, and as a result, this will reduce the amount of plaque that forms in your mouth. We would recommend adding a mouth wash to both your morning and evening routine for further protection to your teeth and mouth.
Thank you for taking the time to read our blog post. We are big advocates for looking after your natural teeth for as long as possible. Between a healthy oral hygiene routine at home and visiting us regularly for your check ups and hygiene visits, your teeth will be well looked after. If you have any particular questions about looking after your teeth or booking in, please do not hesitate to contact us today.