Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Health

Frequently Asked Questions about Oral Health

Why is your dental health important?
Dental health is very important because the mouth is the window to the body. Many illnesses can be diagnosed by examination of the oral cavity. These illnesses include Diabetes, Hypertension and HIV. Scientists have also determined certain links between periodontal (gum) disease and strokes and cardiovascular accidents. It is now also known that there is some correlation between periodontal disease and preterm labour and low birth rates. It is therefore very prudent to monitor the oral health and visit your dental professional regularly.

How many times a day should you brush your teeth, and why?
It is necessary to brush a minimum of two (2) times daily and to floss at least once daily. If you are able to brush every time you eat that would be ideal, but this is sometimes impractical. Brushing your teeth a minimum of twice each day is important so as to reduce the length of time food debris remains on the teeth. The longer the debris remains on the teeth, the longer the bacteria in the mouth have to produce the acid that dissolves the teeth. It is prudent to clean the teeth of debris whenever you eat.

How often should you change your toothbrush?
You should change your toothbrush whenever the bristles are bent and ill-shaped. It should not be kept after 3 to 4 months of usage, even if the bristles look well-shaped. Toothbrushes should not be stored in covered containers; the bristles should be allowed to air dry. Moreover, the bristles from toothbrushes used by different persons should not be allowed to touch. If they touch, there is the possibility of the exchange of bacteria. Infections will then spread from one person to the next.

How does fluoride help the teeth?
Fluoride binds to the enamel of teeth and forms a protective coat on the surface of the teeth. The coat makes the new improved tooth surface difficult for acid to dissolve. Secondly, fluoride also has an antibacterial quality. Finally, fluoride disrupts the biofilm of plaque which naturally adheres to the surface of teeth. The plaque has bacteria living in it and it is these bacteria that add to the deterioration of oral hygiene.

What is plaque and how does it attack the gums?
Plaque is a biofilm consisting of bacteria and extracellular fluid that can irritate the gums, causing gingivitis, the early state of periodontal disease. Plaque forms hours after brushing your teeth and it covers teeth surfaces. When plaque remains on the teeth for long periods it becomes hard and is then known as tartar or calculus. If plaque continues to form on top of the calculus, it can irritate the gums, and a pocket may develop between the teeth and gums. Plaque buildup can eventually destroy the gums and bone that support the teeth.

How can you prevent gingivitis and halitosis?
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gingiva (gums). It is the first step in a disease process that affects the supporting structures of the teeth (periodontal disease). Halitosis is bad breath and can have many causes, some of which are dental. Other causes are medical in nature, and include digestive disorders. It is therefore prudent to brush at least twice daily, floss at least once daily, and use an antibacterial mouthwash. You should also visit your dentist and medical doctor regularly for check-ups.

This article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended and may not be treated as, a substitute for professional medical/dental advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a physician or dental professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical/dental condition. Never disregard professional medical/dental advice or delay in seeking it because of a purely informational publication.

Copyright © 2015 by Dr. Andre R. Clarke. All rights reserved. Reproduction of this article, in whole or in part, is prohibited without written permission. If you have questions, please send email to

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