The saying “armed to the teeth” began back when knights wore armor from head to toe. It has two meanings. The first is to be heavily armed with deadly weapons, and the second is to be overly well equipped or prepared for something. Both meanings can apply to your mouth.
Your mouth contains bacteria. Some of the bacteria are good (we want these!) and others have effects that are not so good. These bad bacteria are the culprits in dental decay (cavities) and gum disease. We can’t get rid of all the bad bacteria, so we need to find other ways to decrease their effects in the mouth.
The two most important pieces of equipment are your toothbrush and your dental floss! Toothpaste can be important too, but even without toothpaste, the movement of the toothbrush is enough to remove or move around the plaque and bacteria and make it harder for them to establish the disease processes.
You should use a soft bristle toothbrush. Medium and hard bristles are too abrasive and will actually damage your teeth and gums, perhaps making it easier for the bacteria to find a place to hide. Brush twice a day (morning and night) for at least 2 minutes each time. Some people find it helpful to add a third time of brushing during the day.
But your toothbrush can’t always reach areas in between your teeth. This is where the dental floss comes in! The dental floss can pass through the contact area between your teeth and remove bacteria and plaque that your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing should be done once a day. Just before bed is the best time to floss, but if you have trouble doing it then, flossing at another time during the day is better than not doing it at all. Ask your dentist or dental hygienist to show you how to floss properly—there is a trick to it and many of us do not do it properly. So far, nothing else works quite as well as dental floss to do what it does.
So are you armed properly for your teeth?
Jennifer G. Robb, DMD is a general dentist who treats all ages. Her office is located at 1612 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH. She is taking new patients. Schedule by calling 440-960-1940 or use the contact form at www.drjrobb.com