If you’ve stuck to your parents’ and your dentist’s instructions, then you should brush your teeth at least twice every day and floss at least once. You should also know that dental plaque is the reason why you should brush and floss; otherwise it would overwhelm your teeth.
It’s what dental plaque hides that makes it a threat to your dental health. Over one hundred million bacteria that rest in your mouth at any given time, and they form plaque when they accumulate. When it isn’t removed every day, plaque calcifies into tartar, and the microorganisms inside the film can lead to tooth decay, gingivitis, bad breath, and more.
There are hundreds of different types of bacteria that reside in a healthy human mouth, and while most are harmless, some are particularly dangerous. For instance, Streptococcus mutans are found abundantly in plaque, and when they metabolize carbs (like sugar) into acid, the acid weakens the enamel protecting your teeth. Eventually, the enamel will become compromised, leading to tooth decay and a cavity.
Besides tooth decay, oral bacteria can also lead to gingivitis and gum disease, which is the leading cause of adult tooth loss today. Because they form plaque constantly, brushing and flossing is the only effective way to control oral bacteria on a daily basis.
For your long-term dental health, however, we also strongly advise attending a dental checkup and cleaning appointment at least once every six months, or as often as your dentist recommends. Professional cleanings allow your hygienist to remove tartar, which is impervious to your toothbrush and floss, and your checkup allows your dentist to look closely for signs of developing trouble.