Floss, brush, smile!

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Klynne Pearl Serrano
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing
Food debris from breakfast, lunch and dinner builds-up on and in-between teeth throughout the day. Most people brush their teeth in the morning and at night before going to bed. But brushing alone will not get rid of all food debris.

The 97th Dental Squadron is raising awareness of cavity and gum disease due to the increased amount of cavities found in patients on Altus AFB.

"Cavities and gum disease are caused by plaque, which is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on your teeth," said Maj. Michael Duers, 82nd DS general dentist at Sheppard AFB, Texas. "Getting debris off teeth right away stops sugary snacks from turning into damaging acids, and removes starchy foods like potato chips before they turn into cavity-causing sugar."

"The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth carefully every day," Duers said. "A toothbrush cleans the tops and sides of your teeth, while dental floss cleans in between them."

It is recommended to floss once a day, and brush twice a day for three to four minutes each time, said Capt. Alexandra Hernandez, 97th Medical Group general dentist at Altus AFB, Oklahoma.

"Patients think they are brushing longer, but quite often spend less than a minute brushing," Duers said. "Brushing with the radio on may be helpful since the average length of a song is about three to four minutes long. A kitchen timer can also be a way to measure your brushing time."

It is vital to floss at least once a day before brushing, Hernandez said.

"Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath," Duers said. "It only takes about two or three minutes to give your teeth a good flossing."

Some people feel that traditional flossing is a hassle, but there are alternatives to it.

"Alternatives to traditional floss are the floss picks and 'go between' brushes," Hernandez said. "The floss picks are convenient because the floss is positioned on a handle and can easily be manipulated in-between your teeth."

"The 'go between' brushes are good because they also have a handle and a bristle brush tip so you can brush in between your teeth," Hernandez said. "Before using a 'go between' check with your dentist on the size you need to get for your teeth."

Forgetting to brush and floss can affect a person's health.

"Neglecting your teeth has strong implications on your overall health," Hernandez said. "Examples could be chronic dental infections, malnutrition and possibly cardiac conditions."

Having healthy teeth and gums can also affect a person's sense of personal appearance, confidence and self-esteem, Duers said.

"Give yourself these precious gifts, which are easily achieved through good, lifelong habits of brushing, flossing and regular professional dental care," Hernandez said.