Without proper dental care, individuals increase their risk of developing a myriad of dental problems and health issues such as obesity, heart disease and diabetes. Dental plaque, a community of oral bacteria, is the leading culprit for the oral health issues and practicing daily oral hygiene is the only solution for lowering the levels of compound. Thanks to technological advances, there are several options individuals can rely on to get the task done.
Once upon a time, it was believed that tooth decay, cavities and gum disease were caused by tooth worms. Thankfully, the Age of Enlightenment allowed for scientific theory to replace superstition and eventually that led to the proof that bacterium microorganisms, not worms, were the cause of a majority of dental problems. Thanks to medical research and advancements in the field, dentists and patients now know the truth regarding the relationship between Streptococcus mutans and Lactobacillus (the two types of bacteria known for causing oral health issues) and how oral hygiene can help keep things in check.
Archeologists have found proof that for thousands of years, primitive humans tried to implement dentistry using prehistoric cleaning devices such as twigs, mouthwashes, ashes and cloth. While our forefathers may not have known exactly what they were trying to remove with their primitive tooth cleaning, the fact is they tried and those early attempts helped pave the way for the most effective oral hygiene behaviors of brushing and flossing. To this very day, combined, those practices are still considered the best way to remove excess dental plaque. Brushing teeth (dentist recommended using a fluoride toothpaste, soft toothbrush and conducting the action for a full two minutes) is the process of gently scrubbing away food particles, debris and dental plaque deposited ON tooth surfaces. It is important to note, that the process can be a bit misleading as while the teeth may appear to be scrubbed and the breath may taste minty fresh, brushing alone may actually force stray dental plaque in between teeth.
Some dental care practitioners have suggested that brushing without flossing is equivalent to only cleaning around 70 percent of the human body during a shower. That is why after brushing, flossing is a must to remove the plaque and build up lodged IN BETWEEN teeth. Research has indicated that "...tongue and tooth brushing in combination with dental flossing significantly decreased gingival bleeding by 38 percent after a two-week oral hygiene program," (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/08/060801131724.htm).
Although dental floss has been a common drugstore item for decades, statistics indicate that the behavior is not so popular. Statistics from Kelton Research flossing is considered to be an act of desperation to remove stuck food or freshen bad breath. The theory is supported by the fact that while dental care professionals say that an average of 2190 yards of dental floss should be used annually, Americans only purchase around 122 yards of the stuff per year. Air floss may help those who cannot stomach the string.
In 2011, dental care product manufacture Phillips introduced a new dental care tool to the consumer marketplace called "Sonicare AirFloss." According to their website "When combined with brushing, Sonicare AirFloss removes up to 99% more plaque" than only brushing with a manual toothbrush (http://www.usa.philips.com/c/airfloss/287417/cat/en/). The tool relies on bursts of air mixed with a bit of water or mouthwash to force out the debris (including dental plaque) from between teeth. This process only takes about a minute and participants in a study produced by the manufacture have indicated that 86 percent of users found the device easier to use than dental floss.
The first oral irrigation device first made it onto the scene in the early 60s. Since then a myriad of studies have been conducted to test how well the devices work. According to research conducted at the University of Southern California, oral irrigation delivered by a three second treatment of pulsating water (1,200 per minute) at medium pressure (70 psi) successfully removed 99.9 percent of plaque biofilm from treated areas (Gorur, A; Lyle, DM; Schaudinn, C; Costerton, JW (2009). "Biofilm removal with a dental water jet". Compendium of continuing education in dentistry 30 Spec No 1: 1–6. PMID 19385349.)
Oral irrigation systems have been developed to be powerful enough unsettle plaque and bacteria three to four millimeters beneath the visible gum line, courtesy of a pressurized water stream and good aim. The devices are easy to use around dental work, can help dislodge bacteria snuggled between taste buds and research has shown that using a water flosser was "...93 percent more effective at improving gum health than tooth brushing and string flossing," (http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/dental-health-tools-floss-teeth).
There are pros and cons to each product dedicated to removing dental plaque. Regardless of the preferred option, individuals must choose one or another in order to remove dental plaque, or risk it hardening into dental tartar. Once that has occurred, the compound is extremely difficult to remove and typically will only budge under the hands of a professional dental care provider. If it appears that seeing a dentist is the only way for YOU to lower your levels of dental plaque and tartar build up, simply call, 1-800-DENTIST, 24/7 to get the name of a local dentist happy to help you.