To stay on top of your game with your overall health, it’s very important to have good daily oral hygiene habits and to see your dentist and dental hygienist at least every 6 to 12 months,
Good daily oral hygiene means brushing your teeth for two minutes at least twice a day — in the morning and before going to bed. Flossing before you brush allows you to clean away the loosened food bits and bacteria.
Your dental hygienist can be your best friend! Do not be intimidated to ask your hygienist questions about what he or she sees while they are deep cleaning your teeth. They can give you tips on how best to clean your teeth daily to prevent periodontitis (also known as gum disease), which can lead to bone loss, tooth loss, and can put a strain on your immune system and cause other health problems.
In most cases, the development of periodontitis starts with plaque. Plaque is a sticky film mainly made up of bacteria. If not treated, here’s how plaque can advance over time to periodontitis:
Plaque forms on your teeth when starches and sugars in food interact with bacteria commonly found in your mouth. Brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day removes plaque, but plaque quickly comes back.
Plaque can harden under your gumline into tartar if it stays on your teeth. Tartar is more difficult to remove. You can’t get rid of it by brushing and flossing — you need a professional dental cleaning to remove it. Because plaque and tartar are filled with bacteria, the longer they stay on your teeth, the more damage they can do.
Plaque can cause gingivitis, the mildest form of gum disease. Gingivitis is irritation and swelling of the gum tissue around the base of your teeth. Gingiva is another word for gum tissue. Gingivitis can be reversed with professional treatment and good home oral care, but only if treated early before you have bone loss.
Ongoing gum irritation and swelling, called inflammation, can cause periodontitis. Eventually this causes deep pockets to form between your gums and teeth. These pockets fill with plaque, tartar and bacteria and become deeper over time. If not treated, these deep infections cause a loss of tissue and bone.