What causes poor oral health

For some of us, we pass through life with no real oral health issues, however for the majority of us usually by the age of 65, end up with some form of gum disease that manifests itself as red, sore, or bleeding gums, and sadly tooth loss not to mention the myriad of diseases that are linked to poor oral health such as heart disease and Alzheimer’s. Unfortunately, the delicate balance of pH (acidity), saliva levels, plaque & tartar buildup, along with the balance of good and bad bacteria in otherwise healthy mouths can be disrupted by a number of things including:

Poor Oral Hygiene

Simple brushing following meals is still the gold standard of home care and we don’t do it frequently enough or long enough. Plaque that is missed in brushing with be hardening by the next day into tartar and chances are there is already bad Gram negative bacteria starting to multiply in or under the tartar buildup. Interestingly, studies have shown that if you take someone’s toothpaste away and have them brush with water only, they will brush longer and more effectively. The thought is that the minty flavor tricks our minds into thinking we cleaned our teeth effectively when in fact we have not brushed long enough!


What we consume such as sugary food and drink (soda, beer, wine)  along with bread products create a firestorm of bacterial activity that raise the acid levels in saliva as they process the calories. Bacteria grow exponentially in a calorie rich environment, quickly consuming available sugars, multiplying and then dying off thus forming dental tartar.

Oral Care Products

Germ Killing (antimicrobial) mouth washes are like a nuclear bomb going off in your mouth indiscriminately killing the good bacteria that have been keeping the bad ones in check. The very tough Gram negative bacteria living in the gum tooth pockets are likely to be unhurt by the attack and are then allowed free rein to consume available food sources unchallenged. What’s more, the millions of dead bacteria pile up and form additional tartar that only serve to protect the bad bacteria from further attack. It is well known that germ killing rinses such as prescription Peridex (chlorhexidine) mouthwash prescribed to you by your dentist builds tartar and thus its use should be limited. The fact is that if you have chronic bad breath, then you likely have tartar buildup and periodontal disease causing Gram negative bacteria living in your mouth giving off odors. Germ killing mouth rinses will only make things worse in the long run. You need a visit to your dentist along with daily use of tartar reducing mouth rinse to keep things in check.

Medical Conditions

Medical conditions can play a role in poor oral health. For example inadequate saliva supply disrupts the natural checks and balances of oral flora. More serious conditions such as diabetes and autoimmune disorders can wreak havoc on oral health. These conditions need to be brought to the attention of your dental professional who can come up with a treatment plan.