Biofilm. Twenty years ago, no one was really talking about how a biofilm impacted oral health; it wasn’t part of the widespread conversation about oral health. The thing is, biofilm plays a really big part in oral health. More and more, doctors, dentists, and researchers are discovering how the biofilm impact health and how they require specific treatment approaches tailored to biofilms (not just individual bacteria) when they are causing health problems.
And make no mistake, the oral biofilm can cause health problems. A biofilm of cavity-causing bacteria can be incredibly hard to dislodge once it becomes firmly established in the mouth. But, it’s not impossible to treat a difficult biofilm; with some vigilance and effort, it’s possible to dislodge even the most difficult biofilm.
A Sticky Situation
Bacteria alone can be hard to deal with. But, when bacteria get together in the mouth, they are more than a cluster of bacteria. They grow together into a sticky film called a biofilm. Bacteria in a biofilm behave differently than individual bacteria, and their grouped defenses make them harder to kill. Biofilms have been shown to slow wound healing where they get established, and they can build up a cavity-causing wall over the teeth.
Biofilm management requires more than a simple dose of antibiotic. When you commit to improving your oral health by taking on a difficult biofilm, you’ll need to put thought and effort into follow through to achieve the results you want.
Tip #1: Build the Right Team- Go to a CAMBRA Dentist
Your oral care professionals need to share your goals. A CAMBRA dentist is specifically interested in helping prevent cavities from developing rather than just filling cavities as they occur. CAMBRA stands for “caries management by risk assessment.” The approach of a CAMBRA dentist to oral health management is proactive, not reactive.
Because they are prevention-focused, a CAMBRA dentist is more likely to share your treatment goals, focused on treating the bacteria that can cause cavities. They are also more likely to have clinical experience treating difficult biofilms.
Tip #2: Use A Risk Assessment Form
A risk assessment form allows you and your dentist to have a meaningful conversation about your current risk levels for cavities. It allows you both to identify risks that you can control for and helps you recognize risks that are not in your control that you can mitigate the effects of.
Using a form, rather than just having an informal conversation about risk factors, allows you and your dentist to systematically review factors and not accidentally overlook something important. Whether you fill out an evaluation at home and bring it to your dentist appointment or fill it out at the office, a risk assessment is an important tool to evaluating how a biofilm is being fed, allowing you to attack it on all fronts.
Tip #3: Use a CariScreen Test
A CariScreen test is a simple, painless test that allows you and your dentist to quickly gather simple, concrete information about the state of your biofilm. It quantifies the level of cariogenic bacteria in your biofilm, allowing you and your dentist to measure how successful your treatment plan is against your biofilm.
Unlike a culture, which tries to grow one or to strains of specific bacteria for diagnosis, the CariScreen test measures overall bacteria levels of acid causing, cavity-causing bacteria. Treating one or two strains of bacteria is often ineffective when fighting a difficult biofilm. They tend to be made up of multiple strains of bacteria, so overall bacterial load can be more helpful when measuring the success of treatment. Also, the CariScreen provides rapid information, whereas a culture takes days. When in the dentist chair, most patients value speedy information.
Tip #4: Use CariFree Treatment Products
Your treatment plan for a difficult biofilm needs to include proper home care products. CariFree professional products work to control factors that contribute to poor oral health. They raise oral pH, fighting the acidic, low pH environment that allows cavity-causing bacteria to flourish. They contain antimicrobial ingredients to kill bacteria growing on the teeth.
Your dentist can help you select the correct CariFree kit or product for your particular situation, taking into account all risk factors and the results of your CariScreen test. With proper care, a difficult biofilm can be treated and good oral health restored.