So you’re pretty consistent with brushing your teeth at least twice a day, although you rarely have the time to floss. You never miss a dental checkup, and you’re careful not to consume too many sugary or acidic substances without rinsing your mouth or brushing your teeth right after. So why do you still exhibit signs of bacterial infection, or tooth decay, or gum disease, or any other oral health issue that you painstakingly try to prevent? Your Waco dentist, Dr. Corbet Locke, explains why all of your efforts are not enough if you neglect to floss during your daily hygiene routine.

The Reason for Daily Dental Maintenance

In case you’re a conspiracy buff, we assure you that dental rules of thumb, such as brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once, were not contrived to increase sales of dental hygiene products. Manual dental maintenance actually serves a very important purpose. Bacteria constantly form in your mouth and gather together into a biofilm called plaque. Good and bad bacteria both constitute plaque, and in a normal mouth, your natural defenses are enough to keep a healthy balance between the two. Outside factors, mainly what you eat and drink, can alter the balance and put your mouth at risk. For instance, when you consume refined sugar, the bacteria S. mutans converts the sugar into lactic acid, which is excreted directly onto the surface of your teeth. As we know, acid attacks your teeth, drains your tooth’s mineral supply, and leads to tooth decay and possible tooth loss, if not stopped. Other substances can change the pH (acid alkaline balance) of your mouth, skipping the sugar-digestion process and turning your entire oral environment acidic for several minutes after contact. Brushing and flossing your teeth daily allows you to better control the ecology of your mouth and protect your oral health.

Why Floss, Specifically?

If dental care were simply about pH, than you might (although probably not) be able to get by without worrying about flossing. Your oral health is more complicated than that. When plaque is allowed to rest on your teeth and gums for more than 48 hours, it calcifies (hardens) into tartar. Hard as a rock and insoluble, tartar removal requires a professional dental cleaning. No toothbrush can adequately fit into the space between your teeth, but for a microorganism like S. mutans, there is room to spare. This bacterium is also anaerobic, meaning it does not need oxygen to survive, so small crevices between your teeth and at your gum line offer ideal locations for bacteria to latch on and thrive. Floss is the only weapon in your arsenal that can remove the bacteria from between your teeth before it has a chance to calcify into tartar and begin its attack.

To learn more about maintaining good oral health practices, or to undergo a professional dental cleaning, schedule a consultation with Dr. Locke by calling our Waco dental office at (254) 776-4888. We welcome patients from Waco, Woodway, McGregor, Hewitt, and surrounding communities.