It’s at the start of your day and, hopefully, before you shut your eyes for bed when you brush your teeth. But why do we need to brush our teeth? Sure, the ‘scary’ dentist tells us to. Our parents scared us into it too; except when I was smaller, we were given sticker books that we got to fill for every morning and night we brushed our teeth (stickers=fun!!). But what’s the deal with brushing our teeth?
Why do we brush our teeth?
Alright, you smart alecs, I know what you’re going to say: Because it’s hygenic, Meera! Okay, yes, you’re all right, it is hygenic. But how? What are we trying brush off?
Why do we really brush our teeth?
There are several species of bacteria in our bodies, helping us perform various cellular processes but there are also some bacteria who are just selfish. There are two notable species of bacteria in our mouths; Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus. Both of these bacteria are greedy.
After we eat food, the food residue(sugar) on our teeth act as a buffet of sorts for these two bacteria. The by-products of this consumption of sugar are acids, which break down the enamel of our teeth. These bacteria also grow, thanks to the supply of sugars that they’ve received; their growth in a thin layer on our teeth is what we call the formation of plaque. Plaque can lead to gingivitis, which is a disease of the gums which makes them inflamed and sore.
It’s important to remember that it’s the sugars that we eat that provides bacteria with the nutrients to grow and multiply. So the more sugar we eat, the more food we’re giving to the bacteria.
So we really brush our to break down the bacterial plaque that forms on our teeth after we eat. This is why it’s necessary to brush at least twice a day; with all the sugar we consume in one day, it’s necessary that we prevent bacteria from forming plaques.
And that is how brushing your teeth is a form of hygiene. Next week, we’ll talk about how toothpaste works to help us brush our teeth.