You just brushed your teeth. Now what? Well, it’s almost time to brush them again! Plaque is a collection of bacteria that’s constantly forming on your teeth. Once it’s removed by brushing and flossing, the process starts all over again. It’s a never-ending battle to keep the bacterial levels in your mouth as low as possible to prevent this sticky build-up from causing permanent damage. Plaque is the the first step in developing the two most common dental diseases: cavities and gum disease.
Cavities can develop when the bacteria in plaque produces acid that breaks down the enamel on teeth. This process usually occurs on surfaces hardest to reach with a toothbrush — the areas directly between the teeth. Over time the build-up of plaque on these surfaces will cause enamel breakdown or cavities.
Gingivitis and gum disease are also caused by plaque. The bacteria found in plaque can cause inflammation or an infection that leads to bone acutally dissolving. When this happens, bacteria from the mouth can find its way into the bloodstream, which can contribute to and possibly worsen, other medical conditions.
Brushing your teeth regularly is important, but it’s not enough. Flossing helps you remove plaque between your teeth that your toothbrush can’t reach, preventing cavities and gum disease from developing. Next to brushing, flossing is the most important thing you can do to remove bacteria from teeth and gums. Daily flossing should be a regular part of your home dental care routine. It really doesn’t matter when you floss. What matters is that you take your time and floss between each of your teeth. While it may seem annoying, the benefits are worth the trouble if you want to keep your teeth for a lifetime.
Another benefit of regular brushing and flossing is minimizing gum recession, which can be extremely painful. Firm-bristled toothbrushes can also lead to gum recession, so always opt for a soft-bristled brush. Other plaque removal devices like floss, interdental brushes, and oral stimulators are important tools in getting rid of the plaque in your mouth when you can’t get to your toothbrush.
Together with your dental professional you can maintain a healthy smile and significantly reduce the amount of harm plaque does to your teeth, gums, and the rest of your body. So, what are you waiting for? It's time to floss!