One of the things I love about my job, and having travelled all over is the exposure to people. I love getting to know them, learning about their work, their families, what they love. I also give them a chance to get to know me, and have made some pretty quick friends along the way. I have an amazing network of friends, colleagues and clients. Often, due to the length of most dental appointments, I don’t get to talk with my clients as much as I would like to. Being an environment filled with anxiety and various fears, I feel a little knowledge and trust goes a LONG way. I have always thought… “What if all of this prevention was common knowledge?”
This is prevention advice that shouldn’t cost a thing and is fairly simple…
Use it pretties!
Think of the last time you flossed your teeth. Since then, bacteria have been hanging out in between your teeth, building a film, inviting all it’s nasty friends along and leaving behind toxins. Anywhere you are missing with your toothbrush the same is also happening.
The bacteria in your mouth build a film wherever it has the ability to attach. The teeth and gums are the obvious attachment sites. Cheeks and tongues also harbor these bacteria. The longer this film is left un-interrupted, the more complex the bacteria become and the more the toxins begin to flow. They are the culprits in dental decay, bad breath, as well as gingivitis and periodontal disease (gasp!)
As if that wasn’t enough, even with brushing and flossing tartar forms. Tartar is a combination of plaque and the minerals in our saliva, which harden the plaque onto the tooth surface. Tartar cannot be removed with brushing and flossing, however it can be minimized by good oral hygiene. Tartar also contributes to gingivitis.
Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) is our natural defense response to plaque bacteria and its toxins. Our immune system is trying to ward off the bacteria from invading the gum tissue. No surface in your mouth can hide. Gingivitis is reversible, and present in most mouths. Pretty much anywhere that bleeds when you brush or floss has fallen prey to plaque.
If you allow inflammation to go too long without interruption, it can lead to breakdown of the attachment between the gums and the teeth. Now you are beyond prevention and into something irreversible. For now, lets stick with what we can be proactive with. Lets avoid ever getting to this point!
The idea is that you minimize the plaque build up and in turn minimize tartar and inflammation. This is within your control. BUT you will never get it all. Once that tartar forms it isn’t going anywhere until you have a cleaning. The removal of all plaque and tartar gives you a clean slate and forces the bacteria to start from square one. The inflamed tissues are given a temporary opportunity to heal. The aim is to manage the ill effects based on your plaque & inflammation levels. For some, the ideal time frame for a cleaning is every 3 months. This is the point where bacterial toxins can start to overwhelm the immune response and cause breakdown. Some can get away with once a year, but are few and far between in my experience.
Above, we have covered the bare minimum of what plaque and inflammation causes, but we need to start somewhere. Brush, floss & see your dental team regularly based on your individual needs. Don’t forget the impact of good nutrition on oral health!
Kim James, RDH
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