It was the end of a long day and I was deeply immersed in my nightly bedtime ritual of brushing, flossing, and getting ready for some badly needed sleep. My Troop of Chore Police (my doggies) came in and informed me that I had forgotten something very important–I had forgotten to check their water. As I grabbed the water bowl, my thumb noticed a film on the inside of the bowl.
“Ewww! Gross! And there are floaters in the water too!” I said to the Chore Police.
At that moment, my thought bubble popped out of my head.
Biofilms form when bacteria adhere to surfaces in some form of watery environment and begin to excrete a slimy, gluelike substance that can stick to all kinds of materials–metals, plastics, soil particles, medical implant materials, biological tissues. Biofilms can be formed by a single bacterial species, but biofilms more often consist of many species of bacteria, as well as fungi, algae, protozoa, debris, and corrosion products. Essentially, a biofilm may form on any surface exposed to bacteria and some amount of water.1
So that is the long definition of biofilm. How does this affect you, the person reading a dental blog? I want you to think in terms of this–biofilm=plaque. Plaque is our nemesis in the dental office. We know that plaque (biofilms) do bad things when they are allowed to hang out in your mouth. When you see your dentist or dental hygienist for your evaluations, you probably have been nagged, excuse me-I mean instructed, by your dental professional to use a toothbrush and floss at least once a day to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Is that verbal instruction from a professional enough to keep you motivated? Probably not, since most people do not floss on a daily basis or even on an every other day basis.
For those of you that require a little more motivation let me introduce to you a video. This video is especially good for those visual learners. There is no distraction from sound or color-just the facts. It is about 2 minutes long and shows the bacterial growth in 24 hours. These bacteria are not actors, they are the same types of bacteria growing and flourishing in your mouth right now. If you want to skip to the last 15 seconds, that’s fine. The end shows how much the bacteria colony has grown in 23-24 hours. Yuck!!
Okay, so I hope I have moved you to want to take action. What can you do?
Brush daily. I suggest brushing at least twice a day using an ultrasonic toothbrush. The action of brushing mechanically breaks up the protective slime barrier and helps to obliterate the colony. An ultrasonic toothbrush, such as Sonicare or Oral-B, utilizes ultrasonic vibration and mechanical means to disrupt the bacteria.
Floss at least once a day. Flossing is an important tool used to reach areas between the teeth and below the gumline. Brushing alone is inadequate in these areas to break up the bacteria. Flossing is another mechanical means of breaking up the bacterial colony.
Brush your removable dental appliance. If you are wearing some sort of removable dental appliance such as a full denture, a partial denture, a mouthguard or nightguard, you will want to use a soft toothbrush on a daily basis to clean the surfaces. These appliances build up the same biofilm and can cause problems if left to multiply.
Check your denture or partial dentures for wear and report to your dentist. Cracks, rough areas, and peeling of your dental appliance will give the bacteria a place to hide and multiply.
The decision is yours.
Are you willing to let the biofilm have a place to live and thrive in your mouth by giving them a safe place to stay, allowing them to eat what you eat, and possibly taking over your dental and all-over health by their increasing numbers and by-products? Or do you become your own Chore Police and train yourself to spend a few extra minutes per day to brush and floss so that bacteria isn’t allowed to run rampant in your mouth and become a sticky, slimy biofilm?
Be your own Super Hero!!
Have a great week and remember that KNOWLEDGE IS POWER!
Your comments are appreciated and read by the author. Your idea could be our next blog topic.
Happy Halloween time everyone! How many of you are having visions of piles of sugary treats of all types right now. Let me share my thoughts with you. I envision many different types of chocolate treats which include chocolate bars, chocolate with peanut butter hidden inside, chocolate with caramel, chocolate covered fruit, the list is endless, and that makes me happy. (I like chocolate, can you tell?) There are also the hard candies, such as Jawbreakers, Red Hots (cinnamon flavored goodness), Jolly Ranchers, and Lemonheads. I cannot forget the soft taffy-like candies: Skittles, Laffy Taffy, gumdrops, jelly beans, and gummy-anything. There is also the old Halloween favorite, a black or orange wrapped unidentifiable candy (?). Did any of you envision fruit or veggies when you read, “Give me something good to eat”? Me neither, but if you did I think you may be in the minority.
As a dental professional, a parent, and someone who doesn’t want to be a party pooper, I enjoy Halloween. I enjoy watching the variety of costumes from both young and old trick-or-treaters. My favorites are the little kiddos that come to the door dressed as pirates, monsters, or your pick of princesses. I will also admit that I enjoy the candy; especially the hard candies (Lemonheads and Red Hots-I have not told my dentist about this.). My disclaimer is this: You should suck on the hard candy, not crunch it. I have a couple of crowns to prove it.
I have a childhood Halloween memory which resembles a scene from the Charlie Brown Halloween special. There is a bright moon outside to lighten our way through the neighborhood. My friends and I are running from house to house, costumes flying behind us as we try to get to as many houses as we can before quitting time. “Trick or Treat,” we scream and hold our bags open, politely waiting for the sound of candy to drop to the bottom of our bags. “Thank you” and then we were off to another house. Our pirating for candy for the evening was almost complete when we stumbled upon the dentist’s house. Once again, “Trick or Treat” and “Thank You, Mister,” then back to the van to check our booty for the evening by the dim interior light of the van.
“A toothbrush?!? What is this?” We were all thinking the same thought at the same time. It was the equivalent to Charlie Brown’s disappointment when he says, “I got a rock.” Yes, it was a toothbrush and yes we were disappointed but that dentist was on to something. I can have candy but I also needed to brush afterwards. Ta-Da! It seems so simple now. Eat candy, and then brush away anything that sticks to my teeth. How easy is that? That man had a secret weapon against cavities and he gave each of us one of our own. He was a super hero against decay!
Now, I am far too old to be out on the Trick or Treat trail, but if you have kids, you may be out there. Be safe and remember that you too can be a super hero against tooth decay. Simply give a toothbrush or help your kids brush to help save teeth.
Happy Halloween from Count Porkula and our office!
What a wonderful way to reach out and be involved with our patients and others! We are able to address concerns and questions that we encounter on a daily basis. The goal is to bring forth answers to questions that people often forget to ask until after they have left the office. Our hope is to educate, and maybe even entertain, while we are navigating to the answers you search.
A dental office visit can be a VERY scary adventure for some people, uncomfortable in the very least. BUT….our aim is to help you help yourself. Our team of trained dental professionals are here to help you in your quest for a happy, healthy mouth and smile. We have armed ourselves with some of the latest technologies to provide you with a road map to wellness. Our tools of the trade we have available in our office are used together with our education and experience to help provide you with the information you need to make educated choices about your dental health.
For some people the scariest part of visiting their friendly dental team is the financial part of the visit. But the dollar amounts associated with dentistry are only part of the full picture. Insurance companies and the policies they negotiate with their customers are often below standards to pay for the optimum, long-term treatment for their customers. Often the insurance language needs translation so our patients understand the benefits they have paid for with these companies. We hope to adequately address questions and concerns about insurance in the future.
I have said that we view ourselves as part of a team to help you help yourself to a happy, health mouth. I want to be clear that this does not mean that we will be expected to show up at your house or workplace to brush and floss your teeth for you. Nor does it mean that we will be able to sugar-coat some dental truths so that they are not painful or uncomfortable to hear or read. With knowledge you have power and that is an awesome first step, wouldn’t you agree? We look forward to hearing your concerns and questions in the future. This will help us to know what you want to know.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to the adventure!