Plaque and Gum Disease

Plaque is a biofilm that can start to reform about 30 minutes after removing it. Inside the plaque, bacteria find a nice place to hide and begin to multiply rapidly. The plaque provides optimal conditions for bacterial proliferation.

The first type of bacteria that forms within the plaque are the gram-positive bacteria. They are not deemed to be the bacteria responsible for gum disease. It is the second type, the gram-negative bacteria that is believed to cause gum disease. The gram-negative bacteria begin to inhabit and multiply in the plaque about two days after plaque forms. These gram negative bacteria produce an acid waste product that is detrimental to both tooth enamel as well as gum tissue.

This is why flossing is so vitally important. It is an efficient mechanical way to remove plaque from between and around the teeth.

The standard answer for how often you should floss is once-per-day. And this makes sense if you consider that the gum disease causing bacteria take about two days to get going. If you floss daily, in theory, you should be preventing gum disease.

However, there are questions to consider. Are you really getting all of the plaque off when you floss? Are you missing any? Do you miss the same spots all of the time?

If you miss the same spots all of the time, then you aren’t getting rid of the plaque in that area at all. It is able to facilitate the rapid growth and provide a breeding ground for the harmful bacteria that causes gum disease.

If everyone were flossing properly and efficiently, then there wouldn’t be so many people with gum disease walking around. The truth is most adults do have gum disease, as much as 80% after the mid 30’s. Yet, that is just a statistic. Gum disease can strike at any age, including children as young as 6 years old.

Since so many people have gum disease it seems unlikely that regular brushing and flossing, regardless of the reason, is enough to stop gum disease. Perhaps people don’t floss thoroughly enough. Perhaps, they don’t floss long enough. Whatever the reason, the statistics tell us that a lot of people are walking around with some form of gum disease.

The question becomes, what does work to rid one’s self of gum disease? I was told by a periodontist that a study conducted in Scandinavia indicated that getting a professional cleaning once every two months cleared up a lot of problems associated with gum disease. Unfortunately, most insurance companies won’t or don’t recognize this as the standard of care that should be maintained. I was also told that the once-every-six-month model of professional cleaning was originally intended to fight dental cavities and not gum disease. Gum disease is a different ball game that requires more frequent professional cleaning as well as good home care.

I was told that I had gum disease. At the time, I was told that I needed a root scaling and planing treatment. I declined and bought a special device called a hydrofloss and used it daily. When I went in for my next dental checkup I was told that I didn’t need that root scaling and planing treatment any longer. I question the validity of the need for the root scaling and planing in the first place.

My gums do not bleed upon brushing and flossing any longer. If you have gums that bleed while brushing or flossing, that is often a sign of gum disease. No one ever told me that. In fact, I never knew it until I started researching gum disease. So be aware that if you have any bleeding while brushing or flossing you may have gum disease. Most people are not aware of this basic fact. As in my case, they often think bleeding is normal.

This article just provides basic information that may or may not be deemed correct by dental professionals or other experts. If you have or think you have gum disease, you should visit your dentist for diagnosis, treatment and prevention advice.

David Snape is the author of What You Should Know about Gum Disease – an important book considering that the majority of adults suffer from some form of gum disease. David also answers questions on any health, fitness or wellness topic at his blog: – David believes in oral irrigation to help fight against gum disease and that the premiere oral irrigation device on the market is the Hydro Floss Oral Irrigator.

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