We’ve all heard that regularly brushing our teeth is important. But why is it so crucial to maintaining our oral health? Dr. Brenda Paulen of Proud Smiles Dental, a cosmetic dentist in Sandy Springs, GA, explains why brushing your teeth is so important.
Preventing Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
The main thing that tooth brushing does is to help get rid of plaque. Plaque is a sticky film that coats your teeth and can eat its way through dental enamel. Under the enamel is the dentin, and the pulp at the center. These are both much more vulnerable parts of the tooth and are susceptible to tooth decay with the buildup of plaque.
However, decay isn’t the only thing that plaque can cause. Plaque can also weaken the gums and start the first stages of gum disease. This is called gingivitis. Bacteria in the plaque irritates the gum tissue and causes inflammation. Your gums get puffy and swollen and are more prone to bleeding.
Gingivitis is just the first stage of gum disease. If this isn’t taken care of, it can progress to a more serious stage called periodontitis. This is a severe level of infection that infects the bone that supports your teeth. When gum disease progresses to this level, it can cause problems with tooth loss and bone deterioration.
The Mouth-Body Connection
It isn’t just your mouth that suffers when you don’t brush your teeth regularly. There are many links between gum disease and your overall oral health. Gum disease and inflammation can be the cause of many systemic conditions — and it all starts with your oral health. Bad oral health may contribute to the likelihood that you’ll develop dementia or Alzheimer’s.
Gum disease is also connected to an increased risk of heart or vascular conditions. Heart attacks, strokes, and cardiovascular disease are all connected to the health of your mouth. Something as simple as brushing your teeth can help you to avoid thousands of dollars in future medical care.
Proper Brushing and Oral Care
It’s necessary to make sure you’re brushing frequently enough to get rid of plaque buildup on your teeth. If you don’t brush your teeth for 48 hours, the plaque can already start to eat through the dental enamel and make its way to the dentin layer inside your tooth. If you go a week without brushing, you’ll also suffer from bad breath and will be able to feel the coating of plaque on your teeth.
To make sure you’re doing enough to combat plaque, be sure you’re brushing your teeth at least twice a day. Aim to brush them for a full two minutes every time you do a brushing session. Flossing at least once a day is also important, as it gets to areas between teeth that a brush is unable to. Lastly, be sure to visit your dentist at least every six months. We can make sure tooth decay isn’t developing and can catch issues when they start early.