Over 700 species of different types of bacteria live in your mouth. Most of the time, they live in harmony with your body and will not cause you any harm. However, if you do not brush your teeth regularly, overgrowth of harmful bacteria can occur causing a variety of dental problems. Some of the dental problems that you can get are known as gingivitis and periodontitis. These conditions are caused by plaque that builds up on your teeth. Plaque is a sticky deposit of bacteria on the surface of your teeth that can cause inflammation to your gums. That is why you should brush your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. Once in the morning and once in the evening would be sufficient.
Why is bacteria harmful for my teeth?
Bacteria use the food stuck in between your teeth as a nutrition source for growth and multiplication. When bacteria metabolize the carbohydrates stuck on your teeth surfaces, it produces harmful acids and toxins as by-products. These acids and toxins can cause teeth demineralization and gingivitis respectively. Demineralization means the loss of minerals such as calcium and phosphate that make up your teeth. Demineralization causes the teeth to decrease in strength and to become more prone to decay. Gingivitis means inflammation of your gums. Gingivitis is your body’s way of dealing with toxins and plaque build-up surrounding your teeth.
In order to understand why you should brush your teeth twice a day, we need to take a look at the timeframe of bacterial growth and attachment to your teeth
Within minutes of brushing your teeth, a thin film of proteins (glycoproteins and antibodies) from your saliva coat your teeth. This film serves as a platform for the attachment of bacteria to teeth.
Within a few hours, the primary bacterial colonizers adhere to the surface of your teeth. This layer of bacteria is mainly composed of Gram-positive bacteria (Streptococci and Actinomyces species).
Day 1: This initial colony expands, multiplies, and can serve as a platform for attachment of secondary colonizers. IMPORTANT NOTE: Your goal is to prevent the growth of bacteria on your teeth. You can do this by disrupting the initial bacterial colony formation by brushing your teeth. Since it takes 1 Day for bacteria to colonize, it makes sense that you would have to brush your teeth at least once a day to prevent bacterial growth and attachment.
Day 3: Secondary colonizers adhere to the primary colonizers. Secondary colonizers are mainly Gram-negative bacteria. Gram-negative bacteria are a more dangerous type of bacteria because they can survive in an oxygen-free environment. One good example of an oxygen-free environment is deep inside your gums.
Day 2-4: Gum inflammation begins on a microscopic level not visible to the naked eye. Gum inflammation is known as gingivitis
Day 12-21: The plaque is multilayered, thick, and pathogenic. At this point, your dentist should be able to pick up any signs of gingivitis clinically. Signs of gingivitis include red, swollen gums that are prone to bleeding.
Beyond this point: If you do not brush your teeth your gingivitis may remain as gingivitis or it may progress to periodontitis overtime. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible as soon as you start brushing your teeth again.
What is gingivitis?
Gingivitis is inflammation of your gums due to poor oral hygiene. Your gums will become puffy, red, tender to touch and can bleed easily. You may notice your gums bleeding even while brushing your teeth. However, don’t get frightened or discouraged as this is normal and the bleeding should subside within 10-14 days. If you continue experiencing severe pain, ulcerations or bleeding then please see your dentist for a checkup asap. The good news is that gingivitis is reversible and treatable from the comfort of your home simply by brushing your teeth 2 times per day. Upon successful treatment, your gums will stop bleeding and will go back to their normal healthy pale pink color.
What is periodontitis?
Periodontitis is a more serious disease than gingivitis because it is irreversible and can be difficult to treat. Periodontitis is characterized by the loss of the bone that holds your teeth in place. Upon successful treatment, the disease progression is ceased however, the lost tissues cannot be grown back. Signs of periodontitis include long teeth with visible roots, receded gums, mobile teeth, bad breath, and sensitivity to hot and cold.
Periodontitis treatment is more complex than gingivitis treatment. This is because the bacteria that cause periodontitis live super deep in your gums where regular toothbrushing cannot reach. Therefore, the only way to actually stop the progression of periodontitis is by doing regular professional deep cleans at your dentist’s office. Unfortunately, one dental cleaning will not be sufficient to stop your periodontal disease. Hence, regular cleaning appointments every 3-6 months will be required. These dental cleaning appointments have to be supplemented by brushing teeth twice a day at home as well as other oral hygiene measures that will be recommended by your dentist.
Too lazy to brush your teeth?
If you are too lazy to brush your teeth, then I would recommend using an electric toothbrush. An electric toothbrush will do all the work for you! Another alternative would be to wake up and go to sleep 5 minutes earlier so that you make time to brush your teeth. HELPFUL TIP: For best oral health rinse your mouth after each meal and sugary/acidic drinks. Although rinsing your mouth should not be used to replace regular brushing, it can help to get rid of any remnants of food, sugar or acids that may potentially cause dental problems. Now, imagine how good it would feel to get compliments from your partner for having fresh breath. It would make those kissing sessions so much more pleasant! So don’t be lazy to brush your teeth!
As you can see, bacteria attach to teeth within hours of brushing. Hence, your major goal is to disrupt the bacterial growth before it has the chance to form colonies on the teeth. If the bacteria establishes colonies, they will start to produce acids and toxins that are harmful to your teeth and gums. The minimum number of times that you should be brushing is once a day however, twice a day is recommended. Anything less than that may lead to gingivitis which can further progress to irreversible periodontitis. It is clear that the best way to take care of your teeth is through prevention by getting rid of the cause before it has the chance to cause damage.
I always give an example of dirty laundry. If you do not wash your cloth regularly, it will become dirty and smelly. Same with your teeth, if you do not clean your teeth regularly they will become full of plaque (dirty) and will cause bad breath (smelly). That is why you should brush your teeth twice a day. This type of approach will help you to prevent disease rather than treat it. Not only will your mouth stay healthy but it will also SAVE YOU MONEY in the long run on expensive dentist appointments and potentially painful procedures.
Please click the following links if you would like to learn more about the meaning/use of the ingredients inside your toothpaste and the benefits of dental fluoride on your teeth.