If you have been diligently brushing your teeth twice a day and think cavities
will not hit you, think again. Oral health studies indicate that brushing your
teeth alone may not be able to maintain an oral hygiene level that adequately
controls the formation of bacterial plaque on teeth.
Plaque, when accumulated,
can lead to development of dental cavities, gum inflammation and related
diseases. Plaque is a generic term describing a sticky film of bacteria that
collects on teeth above and below the gingival margin or gumline.
`When plaque remains in the mouth for as little as one day, calcification or
hardening may occur, leading to tartar formation,' said Dr. Arunee Unsook.
`Brushing your teeth alone cannot adequately remove the plaque in your mouth
because the teeth represent only about 23% of the oral cavity surface,' said Dr.
Arunee, senior manager of scientific and professional affairs with Johnson &
Brushing cleans about a quarter of the mouth and does not thoroughly rid
impurities in between teeth and hard-to-reach areas. Several studies in
different countries also show that the vast majority of people are unable to
maintain a level of oral hygiene sufficient to control plaque formation by
brushing alone due to insufficient time or lack of the appropriate technique.
The Malaysian Adults Oral Health Survey last conducted in the year 2000
showed that the general oral health status of adults aged 15 years and above has
improved, largely due to the fluoridation of water supplies. Despite this, there
still exists areas with serious problems and inadequate availability of
resources such as dental treatment, oral hygiene instructions and extraction.
Under the 2010 National Oral Health Plan (NOHP), goals have been set with the
objectives of achieving optimum oral health among Malaysians. These goals focus
on the reduction of four oral conditions, two of which are dental caries and
periodontal disease, a gum inflammatory disease that leads to loss of teeth.
Gingivities is an early, reversible form of gum disease resulting from
inadequate plaque removal. Gingivities can lead to periodontities; advanced gum
disease, which if left untreated can result in eventual tooth loss.
`Patients can help reduce their risk of developing periodontal disease by
controlling the accumulation of plaque,' said Malaysian Dental Association
president Dr. S. Sivanesan. `This can be accomplished, in part, by adhering to a
daily oral hygiene regimen that includes brushing, flossing and adding an
antiseptic mouth rinse for better plaque control.'
Dr. Sivanesan added that the concept of mouth rinsing as an oral hygiene
measure dates back thousands of years, with the first reference to it as a
formal practice being attributed to Chinese medicine. However, it was only in
the 1960s when the relationship between plaque accumulation and the development
of gum inflammation and diseases was clearly demonstrated that the use of
antiseptic mouthwash was widely introduced. Through clinical trials, it was
scientifically established that the daily use of an effective anti-plaque
mouthwash can be a valuable component of oral hygiene regimens.
He said good bacteria will not really be affected if antiseptic mouthwash is
used in the therapeutic way recommended.
`Basically, we advocate brushing, flossing and rinsing for good oral health
care. Our mouth and its health is a complex thing that affects the whole body,
not just our mouth,' Dr. Sivanesan said. He also stressed that rinsing our mouth
after every meal is very important.