Why Brushing and Flossing May Not Be Enough to Protect Your Teeth

Boutique Dentistry for Nashville, Tennessee

Dr. Kent E. White  describes it as something of a myth that brushing and flossing can protect our teeth. That’s because oral hygiene, cleaning our teeth and gums, only addresses part of the complex problem of oral disease.

Many Factors in Oral Disease

Oral disease is like disease in any other part of the body: it is influenced by many different elements. These include:

  • Oral hygiene
  • Dental care
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle

Because oral disease is influenced by all these different areas, it is best treated with a holistic dentistry approach that takes all these factors into account.

Oral Hygiene and Dental Care

These are the traditional factors that are supposed to protect our mouths from disease, but, as Dr. White explains, if this were enough, we would all have healthy mouths.

We can see the benefit from these treatments in the dramatic reduction in cavities and tooth loss over the last century. In the early 20th century, most people had lost multiple teeth by the age of 30, and by that age there were many, many people who were completely edentulous (lost all their teeth).

This level of problems is rare these days thanks to good oral hygiene and preventive dental care, but it does still happen in some situations where other factors drive the process of disease.


Genetics influences oral disease the same way it influences any other disease processes. Genetics can have diverse influences on the process of oral disease. For example, it affects the structure of your tooth enamel. The thickness of your enamel and its structure can both influence the extent to which you experience decay, and the seriousness of treatments needed.

It can also influence how much saliva your body produces, and how much of the antibacterial factors that saliva contains. The mineral balance and pH in your saliva is also influenced by your genes.

Perhaps most importantly, your genes influence how your body responds to gum disease. In gum disease, as much destruction is caused by your body’s immune response as by the infection itself. Your body’s response can put you at an increased risk of tooth loss, even without cavities.


Of course, lifestyle is also a major influence on the progression of your oral disease. Your diet is probably the most significant factor. If you eat a diet full of sugar and other processed carbohydrates, then your risk of decay and gum disease is higher than if you eat a diet that is balanced with meats and vegetables.

Smoking is also a serious risk factor for oral disease. Smoking restricts the flow of blood to your gums, making it harder for them to fight infection. And it dries your mouth out, allowing bacteria to thrive.

Saliva in your mouth can also decrease if you’re dehydrated regularly. And even breathing through your mouth can have a significant impact on your oral health.

A Comprehensive Approach

To successfully treat a multifactorial disease like tooth decay or gum disease requires a comprehensive approach that is cognizant of all the factors in play. It also requires an approach that is harmonious with your natural processes.

Dr. White is a biologic dentist who practices holistic dentistry to help ensure you get the best possible prevention for oral disease, and the best possible treatment when necessary. To learn what makes Dr. White different from other dentists in Nashville, TN, please call (615) 383-6787 today for an appointment at the Center for Advanced Dentistry.