Why should everyone in Anchorage brush at least twice a day? Let’s take a look at why this is so important.

Man standing in front of the bathroom mirror brushing his teeth

Brushing and Flossing Is the Best Way to Prevent Decay.

Brushing with fluoride toothpaste and carefully flossing removes the food from our teeth and inhibits the build up of plaque. Plaque is a combination of food residue and bacterial biofilm. Bacteria living on our teeth can be helpful or harmful, but the modern diet gives the advantage to harmful bacteria. If we let food stay on our teeth, the starches and sugars in food feed the harmful bacteria. When bacteria eat sugar, they produce acid. The acid attacks tooth enamel, creating tiny holes, which we call tooth decay, cavities, or caries. Unfortunately, brushing can’t get all the spaces between your teeth, so you've got to floss, too, or you’ll develop cavities where they’re very hard to treat.

Brushing and Flossing Prevents Gum Disease

Brushing and flossing does more than protect against tooth decay. It keeps gums and bone healthy. Besides the bacteria that live on our teeth, there are some that live at the base of our teeth, including below the gum line. When these bacteria multiply, we call it gum disease.

The progression of gum disease goes like this:

  1. Plaque build-up irritates gums.
  2. Irritated gums turn red, get sensitive,and may bleed.
  3. Irritated gums pull away from teeth.
  4. Bacteria multiplies in the spaces between the gum and tooth.
  5. Bacteria attack the bone around the tooth.
  6. The body responds to the serious infection by attacking everything in the area, including bone.
  7. Say goodbye to the tooth.

Early gum disease (stages 1-3) is called gingivitis. More serious gum disease (stages 5-7), is called periodontitis. Not everyone who has gingivitis will develop periodontitis. We don’t know why. However, we think genetics plays an important role.

Best Brushing and Flossing Practices

As noted above, it’s best to brush twice a day and floss every day. Research indicates that using an electric toothbrush works slightly better than a manual toothbrush, especially if you have impaired manual dexterity. However, the best toothbrush is the one you will use. If you don’t like electric toothbrushes or don’t want to pay for one, a manual toothbrush will work just fine.

If you are using a manual toothbrush, brush using small, circular motions. Don’t move the brush too fast or press too hard. This can damage teeth and irritate gums. (Over-aggressive tooth brushing is one of the leading causes of receding gums.) Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, but avoid toothpastes that are highly abrasive. And don’t go in for fads like charcoal toothpaste.

You can brush more than twice a day, but follow these guidelines. First, don’t use toothpaste more than twice a day. Used too often, the abrasiveness of toothpaste can outweigh the benefits of fluoride and other ingredients. Second, don’t brush immediately after consuming highly acidic foods and beverages. This includes most sodas, energy drinks, and citrus fruits and juices. If you are brushing more than twice a day, it becomes even more important to use a gentle touch.

With flossing, there is evidence that water flossers and interdental cleaners work best, but the advantage is slight. Again, the best floss is the one you will use. So experiment with different tools and techniques until you find the one that works best for you. How will you know it’s working? You should see a reduction in:

  • Bad breath
  • Red and bleeding gums
  • Time spent during your cleaning appointments

If you want feedback on your brushing and flossing, just ask. We can read the practical impact of your technique on your teeth, and we can help you learn how to be better.

Call Excellence In Dentistry at (907) 349-0022 to schedule a gum disease evaluation at our office in Anchorage. .