We all know that plaque and tartar accumulate on our teeth (also called calculus) if we do not brush our teeth. The dental plaque is a sticky, pale, generally yellow (can be other colours when it picks up colour from your diets– for example, it can be brownish-red if red wine is consumed regularly without brushing), and lumpy. The plaque on tooth surfaces will get thicker, more extensive and form a solid like cement if it is not brushed away on time. Once the plaque becomes harder, it sticks to the teeth stronger and becomes very difficult to brush off. The solidified plaque then becomes tartar. The tartar or calculus can be formed anywhere on the tooth – in the spaces between teeth, in the anatomical grooves and pits, along the gum line and even below the gum tissue.
Since plaque and tartar is composed of bad bacteria and their matrices, the gums in contact with the materials undergo an inflammatory response that sees the destruction of the surrounding supporting tissue like the gums and bone. The most dominant bacteria found in plaque are the Streptococcus Sanguis and Streptococcus Mutans, although there are over 1000 different species of bacteria identified in dental plaque.
The local inflammatory responses in the mouth can lead to systemic inflammatory responses in other organs far away from the mouth. This is due to the increase in inflammatory mediators like the prostaglandins, and cytokines in the blood, originating from the local sites in the mouth to the other organs.
It does not take long for the plaque to become hard. Plaque forms more rapidly at night when one is sleeping because of the decrease in washing and diluting the effects of saliva. The formation of plaque is more readily growing along the gum line (the junction between the gum tissue and the tooth), the spaces between the teeth or at the far back – all those areas just mentioned are the areas most difficult to be cleaned as they are more difficult to reach and are easier to miss while brushing.
At the same time, there are no disturbances for the calcifying plaque while sleeping.
After more than 8 hours of steady calcification, the plaque becomes a lot harder to be brushed away in the morning, especially in the hard to reach areas.
In light of that, it is much easier to brush and floss the food debris and plaque away in the evening before you go to sleep. It will take a lot less time with much better results if the teeth are brushed and flossed right away at night than in the morning.
Therefore, it is more important to brush your teeth at night than in the morning. Besides, there is always a possibility that you may need to rush your brushing because of a time restraint in the morning like school or work.
Most dentists and dental hygienists recommend brushing your teeth twice a day, once at night before bed and once in the daytime. But when in the daytime? Soon after waking up, after breakfast or after lunch? My recommendation is after lunch. However, it may not be practical for certain people because of the environment they are in during the daytime. The next best option would be after breakfast. However, some do not eat breakfast at home so the third best option would be in the morning before going to work or school.
Besides brushing your teeth twice daily, it is also recommended by most dentists and dental hygienists to see your dentist at least once every 6 months to have your orofacial areas including the jaws, lymph nodes in the head and neck region, temporomandibular joints, masticatory muscles, mucosa, tongue, palates, oro-pharynx, salivary glands, gingiva (gums), and teeth examined. During the checkup, your medications and medical conditions will be reviewed. Along with that, scaling and cleaning of your teeth will be performed. Dentists will evaluate the healthiness of your teeth and supporting tissues, gathering concerns and wants like straight teeth, or difficulty in chewing. Last of all, your dentist will discuss your options and co-decide the best treatment plan to address your concerns and improve your health.
At Affinity Dental Care, a general family dental clinic in Burlington, we take your dental health and wellness seriously. Dr. Kenneth Wong, (previously practicing at Martindale Dental Burlington), believes in placing a patient’s health at the forefront and always considers what is the best option for his patients. He encourages co-diagnosing with your dental health provider and gives multiple options to his patients, including thorough guidance of the pros and cons, He always ensures the patient is put first and that patient concerns are primary.