Conspiracy theory: why we brush our teeth?

Our mouths are a natural home to millions of bacteria. These normally do not pose a problem, until one eats. What happens then is a long story.

First the bacteria start breaking down these food particles, sticking to our teeth. This leads to the formation of a thin film called Plaque (not visible to the naked eye). Plaque disclosing solutions are available in some pharmacies which will colour the plaque. This is help you know how efficient your brushing is.

Our saliva carries buffers, which maintains the pH in the oral cavity. Once plaque forms, saliva is unable to reach those areas of the tooth. As a result of the breakdown of food particles by bacteria, acids are formed, which will act on your teeth breaking down its structure. You end up with tooth cavities, which in turn, aid in lodging more food particles…and more break down by bacteria…..the process continues.

Tartar is what forms on your teeth over a period of time due to improper brushing. The plaque, when left overnight and then not removed by proper brushing, hardens and becomes calculus. Calculus by nature has a rough surface, and so indirectly it lodges more food (repeating the whole process over again). The resulting bacterial action in turn releases toxins causing the irritation & inflammation of the nearby gums (gingivitis)​. At this stage if you get a professional cleaning (scaling) done by a dentist or a dental hygienist, it should reduce the inflammation. But you would still need to maintain the health of your gums by proper brushing.

If left untreated, your gums would eventually become so inflamed that it starts to recede (periodontitis), exposing the roots of your teeth. For most people this will cause increased sensitivity​ of the teeth (maybe while ​having ice-creams​ & hot drinks like coffee). But some people will still bear up with the discomfort until the pain evolves into unbearable, gnawing toothaches, and yes, sleepless nights. Finally they fix up an appointment with their dentist. But by then the roots would be too exposed and surgical correction of the gum level, and maybe even root canal treatment could be required.

So, what it all boils down to is this – regular and proper brushing will prevent most of the above mentioned scenarios. And remember, there is no substitute that will ever be as good as your natural teeth.

Got a question for the dentist?

3 Responses to “Conspiracy theory: why we brush our teeth?”

  1. sAP November 9, 2011 at 8:26 pm #

    Hi, great blog. Some questions: Is flossing really as important as brushing? What do toothpastes like sensodyne really do that regular toothpastes do not (I know the result is that teeth are less sensitive to heat and cold)? Is it possible to use medication to repair hurting roots that aren’t as damaged to warrant a root canal treatment?


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