By now you are likely familiar with dentists’ recommendation to brush twice a day for two minutes, floss daily and pay regular visits to their office. Here are the reasons behind these important nuggets of wisdom.
There are nearly 200,000 dentists working in the United States.1
Brushing is all about the plaque.
Without brushing, plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) builds up on your teeth and gums and creates acid that eats away at important minerals on your tooth enamel. This can lead to decay, along with inflammation, bleeding and gum disease.
Removing as much plaque as possible each day from all surfaces of teeth and from under the gumline is key to a healthy smile. Research shows electric toothbrushes are better at removing plaque but brushing manually can work just as well if you take your time and do it right. Two full minutes of brushing twice a day and a good technique are needed to adequately remove plaque. Yet, nearly a third (32%) of adults brush their teeth less than twice a day.2
Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle with the bristles aimed at the area where your tooth meets the gum. Brush gently with circular back-and-forth motions. Ask your dentist or hygienist to demonstrate effective brushing methods.
Research shows that “infrequent brushers” who sometimes miss a day of brushing develop more cavities. This is worse in children who don’t brush the recommended amount.
Decay-causing bacteria use sugars to multiply and create acid. Limit sugar and carbohydrates, that break down to sugars, in your diet.
Flossing is nearly half the battle.
If you don’t floss regularly, you miss out on cleaning a significant portion of the surfaces of your teeth, especially the spaces between teeth.
And your dentist can tell if you’re fibbing about your flossing routine. Bleeding gums and plaque buildup are among the telltale signs. In fact, 44% of people admit to exaggerating to their dentist about their flossing habits.3 And one survey reported that there are more people that never floss than there are who floss daily.5,6
Americans report using some unsanitary and unsafe items — including cutlery, safety pins, twigs, electrical wires and screwdrivers — to remove food between their teeth. Poor substitutes for floss can cause injury and leave germs in the mouth.
Putting off dental visits could cost you.
About 37% of U.S. adults don’t see a dentist on even an annual basis.4 Some people only go to the dentist when they are in pain. However, many oral problems don’t cause pain until they become serious.
Along with regular cleanings, a dental visit will include a thorough oral exam. Your dentist can uncover cavities, gum disease, oral cancers and numerous other oral health issues early on — when they can be easier and less costly to treat. In addition, dozens of systemic diseases like diabetes, Crohn’s, Sjogren’s, HIV/AIDS and blood disorders may show signs in your mouth.5, 6 The dentist may refer you to a physician for closer examination of potentially serious problems.
Your dentist truly cares about your oral and overall health and wants you to be proud of your smile. The next time you see the dentist, make sure to keep your ears open for some wise professional advice.
2 Delta Dental 2019 Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey
4 Delta Dental 2019 Adult’s Oral Health & Well-Being Survey
5 U.S. Surgeon General Report on Oral Health 2000 – Chapter 3 – Diseases and Disorders
6 Application of the international classification of diseases to dentistry and stomatology : ICD-DA. World Health Organization 1995