6 Reasons Why Brushing Doesn’t Always Guarantee a Healthy Smile

At our Salem, Oregon dentistry, Dr. Willis provides patients with the quality dental care they need to enjoy a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums. While daily brushing and flossing, along with regular visits to our Salem, Oregon dentistry, will usually help to prevent patients from developing gum disease, there are uncertain underlying conditions that can cause patients to develop gingivitis regardless of how well they tend to their oral hygiene.

Let’s take a look at a few of the factors that can contribute to the development of gum disease a patient doesn’t always have the ability to control.


Genetics play a role in how the body handles everything from the pollen in the air to the bacteria that develops in the mouth. Gum disease can run in the family, just as more serious conditions like diabetes and cancer. If you consistently develop cavities and battle bleeding gums no matter how frequently you brush or floss, you may have a genetic predisposition towards gum disease.

Patient with genetics that predispose them towards gum disease and tooth decay may need to schedule more frequent cleanings and exams with Dr. Wills. Cleaning every four months, instead of six, could help to prevent the buildup of tartar and plaque that contributes to the development of gingivitis.

Harmful Bacteria

Some patients contract a form of virulent bacteria that are far more destructive to the underlying soft tissue and bone structures that hold our teeth into position. These aggressive bacteria can attack the teeth and gums, increasing the risk of bone loss, bleeding, and shifting teeth. Patients who develop this type of oral bacteria may need to undergo advanced gum disease treatment to eliminate the bacteria and treat the damaged tissue.


A variety of commonly prescribed medications can cause bleeding issues or swelling of gum tissue. Some medications also cause dry mouth, which enables harmful oral bacteria to grow more rapidly. Long-term use of many different types of liquid medications, cough drops, and antacids that have been artificially sweetened with sugar can further contribute to the development of poor oral health.

If Dr. Willis determines that a patient’s medications contribute to their oral health problems, they may need to speak with their physician about switching their prescriptions. Your physician may be able to continue treatment using a different medication that causes fewer side effects.


Cigarette smoking not only increases your risk of developing oral cancer, it also increases the rate tartar builds up in the mouth. A form of hardened plaque, tartar builds up on tooth enamel and contributes to the development of both gum disease and tooth decay. Obviously, the more tartar in the mouth, the higher an individual’s risk for developing poor oral health.

Additionally, studies have found that smoking slows down the natural healing process in the mouth, making gum tissue more susceptible to infection. The longer and more frequently a person smokes, the greater their risk for gum disease and oral infection becomes.


Patients who are pregnant may need to practice improved oral hygiene habits. Hormonal fluctuations can make gum tissue more susceptible to infection. In fact, so-called pregnancy gingivitis is a common condition that can not only impact a woman’s oral health, but could cause complications for her child. Active gum disease in pregnant women have been linked to complication like premature birth and low birth weight in studies.

If pregnant, make sure to let Dr. Willis know during your next appointment at our Salem, Oregon dentistry. Dr. Willis can provide tips and additional instruction on what steps you can take to reduce your risk of developing gum disease during your pregnancy.

Poor Brushing Technique

Brushing daily and properly brushing daily don’t always align as being the same thing. Brushing daily won’t help to protect the health of your teeth and gums if you don’t remove the food particles that linger in the mouth after eating and plaque from the surface of your teeth and along the gum line. Only by focusing on using the right technique can you hope to lower your risk for gum disease.

Proper oral hygiene starts with brushing for at least two minutes twice a day. Spending at least two minutes brushing will give you the opportunity to clean all of the individual grooves and hard to reach areas of the mouth. Additionally, you may want to consider a switch to using an electric toothbrush. Electric or sonic toothbrushes are designed to use the correct circular, instead of the more common back-and-forth, motion that helps to keep teeth clean and healthy.


Enjoying a healthy, great-looking smile requires giving your oral health the attention it deserves. At Willis Dental, our team remains committed to providing patients with the care they need to continue enjoying a healthy smile for a lifetime.