Is Brushing Alone Enough?
Brushing twice daily with fluoride toothpaste is an extremely important way to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. If you are doing this now, that is wonderful news to hear!
Patients will often ask if brushing is enough because they are not flossing daily and there are also so many products available to use and it can be confusing about what’s best to do.
Even though brushing is an important step in proper hygiene maintenance, just doing this twice a day will not stop you from getting cavities.
The toothbrush is able to get much of the plaque from the tooth, but it is impossible to get all of it this way.
Even patients with the best toothbrush techniques will develop cavities in between the teeth if they are not flossing. The toothbrush cannot get in between the teeth. That’s why daily flossing is so important.
Ideally we would brush and floss at the same time however this is not always practical. If you are flossing once a day in addition to brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, then you are doing great!
The average diet in America consists of so much sugar it’s remarkable people’s teeth are not completely covered in tooth decay.
According to the American Heart Association in 2014 on average Americans were consuming near 20 teaspoons of sugar daily. This is more than double the amount we should be consuming! The American Heart Association reports that women should consume less than six teaspoons a day and the average mail no more than nine teaspoons daily.
A lot of the sugar we consume is hidden so we are unaware how much we actually are having. For example, sweet salad dressings like French dressing can have up to 7 grams of sugar in one serving. Even pasta sauce can have between 6 and 12 grams in one serving. This is more than a slice of cake!
Cavities start when we have sugary or carbohydrate-rich food that stays on our teeth and mixes with the acids that bacteria produces. This, in addition to habits like teeth grinding, dissolves and breaks down tooth enamel. Once enamel is worn through, the bacteria invades the softer inside portion of the tooth and causes the cavity.
This process does NOT take long, especially if you are snacking frequently. It’s not possible to brush and floss after each snack so another good tip is to cut down on the sugars and starches being eaten.
Go for your regular check-ups and cleanings so that the dental hygienist can remove the plaque that brushing and flossing could not reach.
If plaque builds then this will absolutely lead to cavities. There is no way to avoid it. Brushing and flossing cannot get rid of 100% so see you dentist regularly to remove what could not be reached and to catch anything early. If there is a cavity it’s always best and easiest cleaned early.