Andra Mahoney, BS RDH
Why Do We Need to Brush and Floss?
Many of you know two questions that your Dental Hygienist will inevitably asked you when you go in for your regular check-up visit: “Are you brushing two times a day?” and “How is your flossing going?”
As an Hygienist, we do not asked these questions to get after you. We promise we do not love nagging you to floss. We do it because we genuinely care for your health and helping our patients understand how brushing and flossing can keep you healthy is one of our professional goals.
Most of you know the guidelines. For optimum dental health, you should brushing two times a day for two minutes, and floss one time a day. We know that is what we are supposed to do. But do we know why?
Plaque (that soft, filmy, white stuff that grows on our teeth) accumulates constantly. 24/7. It never stops growing. Even if you do not eat food, it grows (common misconception that plaque only grows when you eat). Inside plaque lives bacteria. This is the bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. It is recommended that we brush two times a day to remove the plaque and disrupt the bacteria’s harm on our mouth. If we do not remove the plaque, then we are allowing the bacteria to start creating cavities and cause inflammation and infection in our gums.
If the plaque is left in an area for a while then it will harden and calcify. This is what we can tartar build-up, or you may even hear us refer to it as calculus. While plaque is soft and can be removed with a toothbrush and floss, tartar is like a rock cemented onto your tooth. You can brush and floss all day long, once it’s turned into calculus, it’s not going any where. The biggest down side of that is that it still has the bacteria inside of it. Now it’s stuck on your tooth, not going anywhere, with all this bacteria. Even better for gum infections and things to occur.
Don’t worry, your awesome Hygienist will save you. We have the tools and know-how to remove that calculus and get your mouth back to health! But, so do you! You can brush and floss every day, remove that plaque, and prevent that calculus from even forming!
Now many of you do brush your teeth. Which is fantastic! We love when you do that! However, not as many of you floss. I’m not sure why. It’s just as important, and doesn’t really take that long. Here’s something to remember when you want to skip flossing tonight… You can be THE most amazing brusher in the whole world, but you will never be able to clean between your teeth with just a toothbrush. It’s a fact. The best technique will not maneuver those toothbrush bristle to places they cannot physically reach. Floss is the only way to clean the remaining 35% of your tooth that the brush did not get. Floss is a toothbrush’s best friend. They go hand in hand. One just as important as the other.
I hope this helped you understand a bit more why we always ask these two simple questions. If you have any other questions, we are here for you! Just ask!
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