5 Reasons Why Brushing Alone Doesn’t Guarantee a Healthy Smile

family dental care provider in SW Portland

As a family dental care provider in South Portland, Dr. Beck helps patients enjoy a healthy, great-looking smile by providing them with the tools needed to avoid the problems caused by tooth decay and gum disease. In addition to expert dental cleanings provided by our staff of gentle dental hygienists, Dr. Beck and his team also provide patients with instructions on the best ways to both brush and floss.

Brushing and flossing, along with regular dental care, rank as the best habits for helping protect your teeth from the type of oral health problems that can permanently alter a patient’s smile.

Unfortunately, some patients can still develop gum disease even if they take the time to brush and floss daily. Even though these habits work to lower your risk for dental disease and decay, there are a number of factors that can work against your oral health regardless of whether you follow all of the advice Dr. Beck provides.

Let’s take a look at a few of the underlying issues that can increase your risk for developing gum disease.

A Smoking Habit

Let’s start with a fairly obvious answer, a daily smoking habit. Smoking cigarettes, pipes, or using chewing tobacco or vape pens stimulates the growth of plaque in the mouth. The presence of plaque greatly contributes to the development of gum disease, so the more plaque in the mouth the higher your risk for gum disease becomes.

Smoking also slows down the mouth’s natural healing process, making it more prone to infection. Combine the two, higher amounts of plaque with an inability to fight off infection, and it’s easy to see why smoking would work to undermine your oral health no matter how often you brush.


A large number of commonly prescribed medications cause dry mouth as a side effect. While you might not think much about it, your saliva actually plays a critical role in helping to protect the health of your teeth and gums.

Not only does a steady flow of saliva work to wash harmful bacteria and food particles away from the surface of our teeth and gums, it also works to prevent dry mouth, which allows bacteria to spread more quickly. Taking a daily medication that causes dry mouth can increase your risk for gum disease. If you experience dry mouth as a result of a prescription medication, talk with your doctor to see if your condition may be treatable with the use of another drug.


Unfortunately, some people are just genetically predisposed towards developing gum disease. Whether this is due to plaque developing more quickly in their mouths or gum tissue that responds more negatively to inflammation, some patients will have to battle to keep their teeth and gums healthy.

For patients who need to battle against their genetics to maintain a healthy smile, Dr. Beck may recommend more frequent cleanings and exams. Instead of two dental visits, patients may need to make three or four visits a year, depending on the current state of their oral health.

Vitamin Deficiency

While bleeding gums often point to patients having developed early stage gum disease, a condition known as gingivitis, it can also indicate a deficiency in nutrients like vitamin C. Vitamin deficiency commonly impacts the oral health of seniors whose diets have changed because of an inability to easily eat solid foods due to tooth loss or ill-fitting dentures.

If you care for a senior who struggles with eating, talk with your family physician about options for improving their diet.

Poor Brushing Technique

Just like shaving or combing your hair, the technique you use to brush matters if you hope to achieve the desired results. Your teeth feature a lot of hard to clean crevices. If you only spend 30 seconds or a minute brushing, odds are you’ll routinely miss properly cleaning some areas of your mouth. This will allow plaque to accumulate and you to wonder why you still develop cavities and gum disease despite brushing every day.

If you need instruction on how to properly brush, just ask Dr. Beck or one of our hygienists during your next visit to South Waterfront Dental.