We all know that when a cut is not kept clean it can become infected because bacteria has amassed – right? Then, it should also be clear that an overload of bacteria in your mouth could lead to problems. But, the connection isn’t always obvious – until something becomes painful.

When a tooth aches because of a cavity, people typically associate it with decay that has occurred beneath the tooth’s enamel. However, the problem BEGINS because a buildup of oral bacteria has eaten into the protective shell of enamel.

In the mouth, oral bacteria is the “root of all evil.” While it’s natural that a mouth has a certain amount of bacteria in it, the level of bacteria is what can lead to problems – from cavities to bad breath to gum disease to tooth loss.

Preventing these problems is actually rather simple. As a dentist, I believe the problems of oral bacteria accumulation occur because our closed mouths conceal the actual levels of bacteria present. It’s hidden away, so “out of sight means out of mind.”

Yet, research is now showing that when oral bacteria reach infectious levels, they can trigger problems that are far-reaching. In fact, studies have shown that the potent bacteria of periodontal (gum) disease can trigger reactions that are associated with a long list of serious health issues.

These include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, preterm babies, some cancers, and even impotency. Research is being conducted to study its correlation with Alzheimer’s disease and pancreatic cancer.

Most diseases originate in the human body without obvious warning signs. Because this is also the case with gum disease, people are often unaware that a problem exists until something hurts. Unfortunately, the symptom of pain means prevention is no longer an option and treatment is typically required.

At Demotte’s Smile Your Best Dental, we want you to avoid these problems. Our goal is to provide gentle, thorough dental care so you can prevent having to deal with things like cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss. This begins with regular dental check-ups.

Each 6-month dental cleaning and exam is designed to remove any buildup of plaque or tartar (also known as calculus). When oral bacteria are not thoroughly removed on a daily basis (through your twice-daily brushings), they form a sticky film that coats the teeth and gums.

This sticky film is plaque, which is simply a coating of accumulated bacteria. Plaque can harden into tartar, which is a bacterial mass that attaches to teeth. Tartar cannot be brushed or flossed away and must be removed by a dental professional using special tools. If not removed, this mass of bacteria will eat into tooth enamel, causing cavities.

However, the damage of this overload of oral bacteria will continue when not removed. As they amass, these bacteria will cause the gum tissues to become inflamed and swollen. This is the first stage of gum disease, known as gingivitis. Symptoms also include seeing blood in the sink when you brush teeth.

When not resolved, gingivitis can quickly develop into early gum disease. This is when the gums become inflamed. Other symptoms are persistent bad breath, gums that turn red, and gums that pull away from the base of teeth.

As gum disease worsens, the infectious bacteria will cause pus pockets to form on the gums. As the structures that support teeth are further attacked by the bacterial onslaught, teeth will begin to loosen. Some teeth may require removal.

Yet, all this can easily be avoided with a thorough at-home oral care regimen and regular dental check-ups. In addition to twice daily brushing and daily flossing, we advise drinking lots of plain water throughout the day to keep the mouth moist. This supports sufficient saliva flow that moves bacteria (and the food particles that feed them) out of the mouth.

Additionally, brush the surface of the tongue after brushing your teeth (before your rinse), especially towards the back of the tongue. The tongue harbors millions of bacteria. Brushing your tongue can dislodge many. You may also want to consider using a tongue scraper.

Consider what your eat as well. Your smile will thank you for limiting sugar and avoiding snacking between meals. This is because an acid flows into the mouth every time we eat or drink. When you consume acidic or sugary foods and beverages, it ramps up these acid levels even more.

Make your oral care at home a whole-family event! Together, discuss your commitment to keeping healthy and bright smiles. Brush and floss together. Fix a glass of water for one another. Munch on things like raw almonds or carrot sticks as snacks.

The treatment time and money you’ll save by preventing smile repairs will be a bonus to your entire family. If you have fallen short when it comes to your oral wellness commitment, we are here to help you resume it! Begin by calling 219-987-5733 to schedule a consultation appointment. During this time, we can discuss ways to help you enjoy confident smiles for a lifetime.

If dental fear or payment is a concern, we can also address those issues during your consultation.