I don't think some people fully understand the importance of good dental hygiene. Sure, you don't want your teeth to feel like fuzzy bears but there's a lot more to it. When you don't brush and floss, you are allowing really gross bacteria to reproduce inside of your mouth. Um, YUCK!
I've been a dental assistant OFFICIALLY for 5 years now, both in orthodontics, periodontics and oral surgery. Although I haven't seen *too* much, I have learned numerous things along my way. These things vary from brushing with braces, bone loss and lumps called 'mucoceles'.
Think about it for a second...your mouth is an opening to the rest of your body. It's a direct entryway for things to enter your stomach, intestines, and blood stream. Your kidneys, lungs, and even your heart.
Did you know that pregnant women can go into preterm labor due to periodontal disease?
Did you know that periodontitis can lead to heart issues if not treated properly?
Did you know that a small ulcer on the tongue could actually be HPV?
Your teeth and gums can tell a story. And believe me, when you floss right before a dental cleaning, the hygienist KNOWS just by looking at the tissue if you actually do it regularly. You're not fooling anyone.
When you don't floss, bacteria is building up around the teeth. Your plaque hardens and becomes calculus ( or tartar ) which is unable to be brushed away. Without regular dental cleanings, this calculus continues to build and, in Laymen's terms, pretty much eats away at the bone surrounding your teeth. The gums can become red and inflamed. Potentially, if not treated, it can cause tooth loss. No bueno!
The early stages of gum disease is a word you've probably heard your entire life: gingivitis. Now, gingivitis can be reversed. When you have gingivitis, it's pretty much some mild inflammation that can be fixed with consistent brushing and flossing. When you see your hygienist for you 6 month check ups ( yesssss, you should be seeing them bi-annually ) she/he will do what they called "probing". Healthy gum tissue will probe 1-3mm; 4-5mm is borderline; 6+mm shows periodontal compromise and possible bone loss.
Another concern is a possibly cracked tooth. Symptoms of this would include sensitivity to hot and cold, pain when chewing, the tooth feeling "high", or even a visible abscess. Not only will this cause you pain, it can potentially infect your blood stream causing even more severe issues. An abscessed tooth is no joke and should be taken care of as soon as possible.
Some tooth issues are, unfortunately, hereditary. Whether it be soft teeth, supernumerary teeth or even periodontal issues. But with proper care, you can control these problems.
1. Make sure you floss twice a day after brushing to remove any build-up that may have been wedged between the teeth. If you're not big on floss, there is the option for a WaterPik, which actually shoots a thin spray of water between the teeth.
2. Brush twice a day! If you're prone to caries ( cavities ), try to use a toothpaste that contains fluoride. If you have sensitive teeth, stay away from whitening toothpastes.
3. If you're prone to break-down, avoid crunchy/chewing/sticky foods. There is less potential for cracking with a softer diet.
4. See your dentist regularly! This one is muy importante. They can see all aspects of your teeth that you cannot visibly see, so it's very pertinent that you have regular check-ups. For someone with a healthy mouth, bi-annually is adequate. For someone with gum issues, you may be seen every 3-4 months, depending. It's crucial you keep up with these appointments.
Remember, your smile says a lot about you. A smile can brighten someone's day and can do numbers for your self-esteem. It's definitely a trait that you should invest in. Plus, who doesn't like to eat...?!