Bacteria can live in your mouth in the form of plaque. It causes cavities and gingivitis, which can lead to gum disease. To keep your mouth clean, you must practice good dental hygiene every day.

What is plaque?

Plaque is a sticky layer of material containing bacteria that accumulates on teeth. This is especially true in places where toothbrushes can't reach. Many of the foods you eat cause the bacteria in your mouth to produce acids. Sugary foods aren't the only source of plaque, there are others that you might not realize can cause you harm. Starches—such as bread, crackers, and cereal—also cause acids to form. Plaque also produces substances that irritate the gums, making them red, sensitive, and susceptible to bleeding. This can lead to gum disease. If your gums are not treated, the bone around the teeth may be harmed and teeth may become loose.

How can I get rid of plaque?

The best way to remove plaque is by brushing and cleaning between your teeth every day. Brush your teeth twice per day with a soft-bristled brush to remove plaque from the surface. The size and shape of your toothbrush should fit your mouth and allow you to reach all areas with ease. It is best to use an antimicrobial toothpaste containing fluoride. This helps protect your teeth from decay.

Flossing is essential to prevent gum disease. Flossing cleans between the teeth and gets where a toothbrush can't reach. You should floss once a day.

How do I brush and floss my teeth?


  • Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your gums.
  • Brush back and forth in short strokes.
  • Brush the outer, inner, and chewing surfaces of your teeth.
  • Don't forget to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.


  • Break off about a foot of floss and wind it around the middle fingers of each hand. Hold the floss between your thumbs and forefingers.
  • Guide the floss between your teeth.
  • When the floss reaches the gum line, curve it into a C shape against one tooth. Slide it into the space between the gum and the tooth.
  • Hold the floss tightly against the tooth. Gently rub the side of the tooth, moving the floss away from the gum with up-and-down motions.
  • Repeat between all teeth.

Is there anything else I can use to clean my mouth?

Besides daily brushing and flossing, a mouth rinse can increase the cleanliness of your mouth. Antimicrobial mouth rinses reduce bacteria and plaque activity, which cause gingivitis and gum disease. Fluoride mouth rinses also help reduce and prevent tooth decay. Brighter Smiles Dental can assist you with any new products you may be interested in trying.

Fluoride rinses are not recommended for children under the age of 7 because they may swallow them. Always check the manufacturer's label for precautions and age recommendations. If you have any questions, Brighter Smiles Dental will be more than happy to help.

Oral Cancer Screening

The VELscope® Vx Enhanced Oral Assessment System centers on a handheld scope that is used by your Brighter Smiles dentist or hygienist to help visualize oral tissue abnormalities, including cancer and pre-cancer.

The VELscope® Vx system is an adjunctive device which means it must be used together with and as a supplement to the traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam. Unlike other adjunctive devices used for oral examinations, the VELscope®Vx does not require any dyes or prolonged testing procedures. In fact, a VELscope® Vx exam can be performed in our Brighter Smiles dental office during a routine hygiene exam in about two minutes.

A New Way to Examine for Oral Disease

VELscope® Vx technology is changing the way oral mucosal examinations take place. The VELscope®Vx handheld device emits a harmless, bright blue light which is used to inspect the mouth and tongue. The device is sensitive to abnormal tissue changes and the distinctive blue-spectrum light causes the soft tissue (oral mucosa) of the mouth to naturally fluoresce. Healthy tissues fluoresce in distinct patterns that may be visibly disrupted when tissue undergoes an abnormal change (which can occur in the oral mucosa for a multitude of reasons), such as when associated with dysplasia or oral cancer.

Supplementing the COE

Dentists use the VELscope® Vx device to supplement the traditional intra and extraoral head and neck exam (also referred to as the comprehensive oral exam or "COE"), and they are rapidly embracing the use of this device to help visualize abnormal oral tissue, such as potential cancerous or pre-cancerous tissues that are not apparent or sometimes not even visible with the naked eye alone. Exams can be more thorough and any suspicious areas can be quickly investigated for confirmation of oral disease.

Why Early Discovery Matters?

The statistics are highly suggestive: when discovered early the 5-year survival rate for oral cancer patients is about 83%. Unfortunately, most cases of oral cancer are discovered in late stages, when the five-year survival rate drops to around 50 percent.

The VELscope device is based on an imaging modality which is sensitive to tissue changes. Its use in everyday practice can provide timely information to dentists and hygienists to enable enhanced visualization of abnormal tissues, which is beneficial for patients.

Changing Demographics

New research confirms that the risk factors for oral cancer have been expanded to include the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV16), in addition to tobacco use, frequent and/or excessive alcohol consumption, a compromised immune system, and past history of cancer. This changing demographic presents an unprecedented call to action for oral cancer awareness and regular screenings.