Recently, I was asked by one of my followers on Quora.com, “What will happen if I stop brushing my teeth altogether?” Considering the high-sugar content of our diets today, I expect that this person would have many carious lesions (caries) long before their next visit to the dentist. They asked me why this would happen, considering that animals do not brush their teeth (which many pet parents would disagree with!) and I described the reason to them in some detail.
Animals do not have a diet high in sugar and citrus as we humans do; thus, they do not suffer from caries like we do. Citrus and other highly acidic foods, such as tomatoes, can erode the enamel right off one’s teeth. In addition, our friends in the wild (and our animal babies at home) typically eat higher fiber diets than we, which, in chewing, helps them to clean the calculus from their teeth. Calculus is that chalky build-up that grows on the back of your lower front teeth and under your gums. The average patient cannot remove this calculus themselves, and so the dental hygienist removes it from your teeth and under your gums at each dental visit. Moreover, Even if you remove ALL sugar (good luck!), acid, and citrus from your diet, you will still build up calculus and plaque on your teeth which, if not professionally removed by your dentist or dental hygienist, will cause problems with your gums, leading to tooth loss. This is known as periodontal disease. To prevent all of the problems listed above, I recommend a very balanced diet, brushing and flossing at least twice a day, using a bacteriocidal mouthwash like Crest ProHealth or Listerine once a day, cutting way back on sugar, using an at-home fluoride rinse such as ACT fluoride, and seeing your dentist and hygienist at least twice a year for a thorough examination and a cleaning.
Remember the old dentist’s adage: You only have to brush and floss the teeth you want to keep.
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