National Children’s Dental Health Month: Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away

Staff Sgt. Amanda Puscian
NCOIC, Air Force Dental Readiness Assurance Program

Editor’s note: This is the last in a series of articles and commentaries in celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month.

People going to the dentist for a cleaning may find themselves thinking afterward, “it seems like the hygienist really had to work hard.”

Flossing correctly can prevent that from happening. There are three reasons why it is important to floss your teeth.

First, flossing aids in preventing cavities. Flossing is the key to removing plaque, a thin film made of bacteria that lives in your mouth and small food particles between teeth.

Plaque cannot be rinsed off with water. Flossing cleans in between your teeth, removes plaque and other components made from sugars and acids which break through the enamel and cause decay.

Even after properly brushing your teeth, 40 percent of the bacteria still remains between your teeth.

Second, flossing helps prevent gum disease and bone loss.

According to the American Dental Association, gum disease is caused by a build-up of plaque that irritates the gums, causing them to become swollen and bleed. The bone surrounding each tooth that secures it in place slowly melts away, causing eventual tooth loss.

***image1***After 24 hours, plaque forms into calculus and the bacteria collecting in your mouth begins to decompose the gum tissue causing recession of your gums. The tiny fibers of tissue that hold the gum tissue to the tooth are disconnected and form pockets where even more bacteria can hide.

Periodontal disease begins when the pockets of bacteria which have formed around the tooth begin to decompose the bone which holds your teeth in place. Once the bone begins to degenerate, teeth will loosen and eventually have to be surgically removed or just simply fall out because they don’t have any supporting bone structure.

Third, flossing improves your breath by removing the tiny food particles that cause the odor in your mouth, like onions and garlic.

Flossing also removes the bacteria that feed off the food which create sulfur compounds that cause the odor in your mouth.   

Undoubtedly, flossing is very important in maintaining oral health and can make life for a hygienist much easier.

A National Children’s Dental Health Luncheon will be held 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Sunday at the Ramstein Officers’ Club. While enjoying lunch, parents and children can learn how to maintain a healthy smile.