Many of my patients are surprised when they learn that they have periodontal disease, which is one of the most common diseases. It is a disease in which there is damage and deterioration of gum and bone tissue in the mouth. I often hear, “but I brush my teeth every day”. I also often hear, “it must be due to getting older”. While it is true that there is a correlation between more dental diseases associated with increased age, but age by itself is not the root cause of periodontal disease. Bacteria is the culprit. If flossing in between the teeth is not addressed properly, imagine that day after day, year after year, the bacteria trapped in between the teeth continues to grow, and it grows exponentially. Over time, bacteria causes irreversible damage to bone and gum tissue, which leads to tooth loss. Even using mouthwash without flossing will not efficiently remove the bacteria in between teeth.

Many people do not realize that brushing alone is not enough to get rid of harmful bacteria that can cause inflammation that can spread to other parts of the body. The tongue and the surfaces between our teeth, between the gums, are often the most over-looked areas that get neglected during home dental care. Here is another illustration on flossing to make my point: when you wash your car and there are dried up bird droppings and tree sap, pressurized water from a hose alone cannot wash away the debris. Only physical contact with perhaps a sponge or a rag is necessary to remove the hardened debris. This is the same with plaque and calculus. It cannot be removed with mouthwash alone. Brushing does remove the debris on teeth, but it does not reach the surfaces in between the teeth and below the gumline. That is why coupled with brushing, proper flossing is important in keeping the mouth healthy. And if the mouth is clean and healthy, one can actually help reduce the chances of infection, inflammation, and even heart disease that would otherwise be caused by dental-related diseases.

Dr. Ann Nguyen-Chung

Family Dentist & Founder of Hippotanicals

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