15 Things Your Dentist Actually Wants You To Know

    Run your tongue over your teeth and feel that nice, fuzzy bacteria biofilm.

    It's easy to forget how INSANELY DIRTY our mouths can get.

    1. Right now, there's a super sticky biofilm called plaque that's coating the surfaces of your teeth with bacteria.

    2. If your mouth is super dry, that bacteria grows even faster.

    3. Plaque also grows on your teeth at night, which is why it's pretty gross to forget to brush and floss in the morning.

    4. Plaque can only be removed manually by brushing and flossing or else it will literally just sit there FOREVER.

    5. Over time, that plaque will turn into super hard white stuff called tartar, which a dentist usually needs to remove.

    6. And eventually, bad dental hygiene habits can turn into gum disease, which is obviously painful and annoying.

    7. There is a wrong way to floss, and you might be doing it.

    8. And you definitely don't want to brush too hard, which can lead to receding gums.

    9. Sugary and starchy foods literally feed the bacteria that eat away at your enamel and cause cavities.

    10. The more times you eat during the day without brushing in between, the faster decay will happen.

    11. A chip in your teeth, no matter how small, is super vulnerable to tooth decay.

    12. If you don't get fluoride from water or toothpaste, you risk getting 20-40% more cavities.

    "There’s a lot of debate about fluoride, but researchers have proven that fluoride prevents decay," Harms says. The best way to get fluoride is ingesting it in water because it gets in your bloodstream and works from inside the tooth — "it's nature's cavity fighter," Harms says.

    Ingesting fluoride and using fluoride toothpaste or rinses has been proven to reduce up to 40% of tooth decay. Levels of decay are significantly higher in regions where the water lacks fluoride, Harms says, so the government actually monitors and modifies the amount so it's optimal, which is called "fluoridation." It's a super important part of good oral health and shouldn't be taken for granted, Harms says.

    13. If you have kids, make sure to pass these cleaning habits along ASAP, because dental decay is one of the most common chronic childhood illnesses.

    14. Poor dental health can affect your overall health, too.

    15. And even if you take great care of your teeth, you still need to see a dentist regularly.