We all know what we should be doing. We should be brushing our teeth twice a day and flossing our teeth at least once a day. In addition, we ought to rinse our mouths with water after eating to reduce the amount of debris and bacteria left behind after eating.
That’s in addition to the cleanings and checkup at the dentist every six months or so.
We all know that’s how it should be done, but, in practice, a lot of us let tooth care slide. After all, what’s the worst that can happen – a cavity? And, anyway, if you do have a cavity that will be quickly fixed by seeing your dentist.
It’s a little awkward going in for the first time in a few years, especially knowing you have not been flossing properly, but that can be fixed with, “I usually take great care of my teeth, just with this cavity I haven’t been able to floss.”
You don’t add that you haven’t flossed in a few years, either.
What the Big Deal Really Is
Cosmetically, we don’t really see that there is a problem unless we crack a tooth or need to have one extracted. To be fair, considering the amount of work they do, your teeth don’t really give you a lot of problems. What other part of your body is worked out at least three times a day with no problems?
It’s not so much the teeth that need the help as the gums. Plaque forms on the teeth every time you eat. It’s sticky and so must be removed by brushing. (Mouthwash alone won’t work.) Plaque that is left in place will harden into tartar over time and need to be professionally removed.
But that’s still not the big deal. What is of concern is that the plaque will also affect the gums and you may develop gingivitis, still treatable but, if left unchecked, you are looking at full-scale periodontitis.
And that is a big problem. Periodontitis can cause your teeth to loosen, your jawbone to weaken and crumble and be extremely painful. What could be worse?
I haven’t got to the best part yet – some studies have shown a correlation between periodontitis and an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, rheumatoid arthritis and respiratory diseases. All of that because the bacteria on your teeth can make it into your bloodstream!
The good news is that by taking care of your teeth instead of just telling the dentist that you do, you can stop yourself from getting gingivitis in the first place.