You may have heard your dentist tell you that you should brush your teeth at least twice a day, for a minimum of two to three minutes at a time, and floss at least once. Doing so helps keep your mouth clean, and your smile bright. Yet, there are more reasons for keeping your mouth clean than merely maintaining an attractive smile. Valley Ridge family dentist Dr. Jessica Johnson explains the importance of maintaining a good oral hygiene routine.
The Basics of Oral Hygiene
Understanding your mouth and the reactions that govern its health is important to keeping your teeth strong. For instance, a popular theory states that eating too much sugar leads to the formation of cavities. While this is close to true, it is not the truth, and believing it is can detract from proper oral health care and cavity prevention. Rather than being directly responsible for tooth decay, sugar is a fuel that allows oral bacteria to produce lactic acid, which it excretes all over the surface of your teeth. This acid initiates the first stage of tooth decay. Known as demineralization, early tooth decay involves acids attacking your tooth enamel and siphoning essential minerals from you tooth. Among those minerals are calcium and phosphate, which your tooth enamel requires to strengthen itself. Once the enamel is weakened, bacteria can easily slip past to the tooth’s structure, spreading the decay inwards.
Can Brushing Really Help?
One of the main bacteria responsible for metabolizing sugar into acid is Streptococcus mutans. Like all other oral bacteria, S. mutans contributes to the formation of dental plaque, which clings to the surfaces of your teeth. Because bacteria are native to the mouth, exterminating them permanently is impossible. Every day, more will come. The only way to protect against the harmful reactions of oral bacteria is to control those reactions, most commonly by controlling the bacterial population. By brushing and flossing your teeth twice a day, you can inhibit the accumulation of bacteria, reducing acid production at the same time.
You must also remember to schedule and attend a comprehensive dental checkup at least once every six months to allow Dr. Johnson to inspect your mouth for signs of infection or disease. Detecting oral issues early increases the chances of treating them before too much damage is done. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jessica Johnson, contact Valley Ridge Family Dental today at (515) 327-62230. Located in West Des Moines, we proudly serve patients from West Des Moines, Waukee, Urbandale, Clive, and the surrounding communities.