We all brush our teeth twice a day. We know we should floss. We swish around some mouth wash to ensure fresh breath. But , really , how important is it all? No one wants a cavity , but is the situation really that dire? Surprisingly , yes.We all brush our teeth twice a day. We know we should floss. We swish around some mouth wash to ensure fresh breath. But , really , how important is it all? No one wants a cavity , but is the situation really that dire? Surprisingly , yes.Put simply , when you eat and drink , food particles and sugars are left behind in your mouth. If you do not remove them , through brushing and flossing , the naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth will start to grow and feed off those remnants. This is called a biofilm. It’s when free-floating microorganisms (the bacteria in your mouth) attach to a solid surface (your teeth) and begin to colonize. Plaque , the yellowish film that can cover unbrushed teeth , is an example of a biofilm. Unfortunately , we can never completely eliminate plaque. It is an ongoing process that we can keep it under control by brushing , flossing and by using an antibacterial mouthwash. Unchecked , plaque will release toxins that irritate the gums. The gums can become sore , swollen and may bleed easily. In fact , even a gentle brushing may cause them to bleed. Another symptom is that the gums may recede slightly , giving teeth an elongated appearance. Plaque can then form in the pockets between the teeth and gums , hardening into tartar. All of these irritations signal the early stages of gum disease , or gingivitis. Surprisingly , over 50% of Americans have gingivitis and do not even realize it. A good cleaning with a dental hygienist every six months can eliminate the problem and proper oral care on a twice-daily basis can prevent it from occurring again. Unfortunately , avoiding the dentist , out of fear or lack of insurance , allows gingivitis to progress further into the much more serious periodontitis. Advanced gum disease , periodontitis , is a serious matter that occurs when gingivitis is left untreated. Receding gums , gum pockets , newly formed gaps between teeth , bone deterioration and tooth loss are all signs of periodontitis. In fact , periodontitis is an infection that destroys the soft tissue and bone supporting the teeth. Unfortunately , periodontitis and tooth loss is not the worst health ramification of poor dental hygiene. Many medical and dental professionals believe that the oral germs produced from a case of periodontitis may actually enter the blood stream through a small cut in the mouth or gums. With access to that transportation system , these germs can now travel anywhere in the human body. If they travel to the heart , they can attach to fatty plaque and become a deadly blood clot , possibly causing a heart attack. If they travel to the brain , they can possibly cause a stroke. The most frightening aspect of poor oral health relates to pregnant women. In fact , they can have a difficult time providing good oral care due to morning sickness and an increased gag reflex during pregnancy. Unfortunately , new research has shown that pregnant women need to be especially vigilant about their teeth. Low birth weight and early labor have both been linked to oral health. And , as frightening as it sounds , a 2010 study revealed that there may be a link between miscarriages in seemingly healthy woman and oral health. Researchers postulate that those same germs can enter the bloodstream and work their way down to the developing fetus. The germs can attach to the placenta , leading to a miscarriage. The even scarier part is that many times the germs were not from the more serious periodontitis , but rather from everyday oral bacteria. So , how do you prevent all of this? Simple. Good oral care , twice a day , would prevent gum disease and all the unwanted complications completely. It really is as simple as brushing , flossing and a good mouthwash.