Written by: Drew Vanderbrook, DDS (Dallas County Dental Society Member)
The busy month of June is filled with the start of summer routines, celebrating fathers and enjoying graduations. June is also celebrated as Oral Health Month, giving a great reminder during this busy time to brush up on a few things you should be doing to keep your mouth healthy.
One way to keep your mouth clean and healthy is to avoid the effects of gum disease or periodontitis. At the root of gum disease is a substance that accumulates daily in all of our mouths. This sticky, colorless film, called plaque, builds on your teeth and contains millions of bacteria. The bacteria can lead to gum disease and tooth decay if not removed with regular brushing and flossing. When we eat, the bacteria in plaque feeds on the sugars in food and excrete acids that can erode tooth enamel. If not removed, then these acids eventually cause a cavity.
Likewise, plaque that is not removed by daily brushing and flossing will gradually harden into tartar or calculus. As tartar collects along the gum line, it becomes much more difficult to remove. Eventually, the combination of plaque, tartar and bacteria can lead to gum disease. In its early stage known as gingivitis, gum disease is recognized by red and swollen gums that may bleed when you brush your teeth. At this point, gum disease may be reversible with good oral hygiene at home and a cleaning at your dentist’s office. If untreated, this may cause permanent damage to your gums and bone surrounding your teeth.
To avoid these problems, here are a few tips to follow:
- Brush your teeth at least twice every day, using a soft brush and fluoride toothpaste
- Floss daily to remove plaque from between your teeth where a brush cannot reach
- Eat a healthy and well-balanced diet and cut back on snacks that usually contain more sugars
- Schedule twice yearly dental checkups and cleanings
As your summer starts, don’t forget to start thinking about your mouth and teeth during Oral Health Month. By following a few simple habits, you can keep your mouth clean and healthy moving forward.
For more information about Oral Health Month: