Good oral hygiene is important, yet there are still many people who take this necessary daily ritual for granted, either because they find it tedious, or they simply do not know how to practice good oral hygiene. So, we’re going to start off with the basics…
What is Good Oral Hygiene?
Having good oral hygiene means having a clean and healthy mouth, which includes;
- Teeth are clean from food or other material, and they are not painful, even when brushing
- Gums should be pink in colour, and they are not painful or bleeding, even when brushing
- Bad breath is not an issue
Regular dentist appointments are also imperative in making sure we continue to maintain good oral health. These should be scheduled at least once every 6 months.
What causes Bad Oral Hygiene, and what are the consequences?
The mouth is naturally full of bacteria, and while most of these bacteria are harmless, they may still lead to oral infections, if the mouth is not well taken care of. These oral infections include gum disease and tooth decay, which is the loss of enamel, usually caused by acidic foods or drinks.
Another common issue, when it comes to Oral Hygiene, is plaque. Plaque is basically a build-up of food and other material that sticks to the teeth. This is particularly persistent in areas that are difficult to reach with a toothbrush. The main causes of plaque are sugary foods and drinks, and starches. Over time, plaque starts to irritate the gums, making them red, more sensitive, and eventually leading them to bleed.
Studies have shown that oral health may also be linked to various other diseases, including cardiovascular disease, and pancreatic cancer.
In turn, certain conditions might also affect oral health, such as diabetes, HIV and AIDS, osteoporosis, eating disorders, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
It is also good to remember that taking certain medications, such as antidepressants, painkillers, decongestants, and antihistamines can reduce saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food, and neutralizes acid produced by bacteria, thus helping to protect the mouth from infection. Therefore, making sure that your dentist is aware of any medications or health conditions will help in maintaining better oral hygiene.
How can we protect our Oral Health?
- Regular brushing
This is one of the first steps in helping to maintain good oral hygiene. We should brush our teeth at least twice a day (in the morning, and before bed) to help prevent acid and food build-up. Make sure you get the very back teeth, and always brush using back-and-forth, up-and-down motions. Don’t forget to also clean the surface of your tongue, as this has a lot of bacteria on it.
Most people seem to hate flossing, however it can help remove food particles in all those hard to reach places that toothbrush bristles just cannot reach. So, make sure that you take some time to do this, at least once a day.
- Use mouthwash
A good mouthwash further helps keep teeth free from plaque and cavities, as well as the gums free from gingivitis. Ask your dentist about the right mouthwash for you.
- A healthy diet
Avoid sugary or acidic foods and drinks, as much as possible, and consume more calcium, which is normally found in dairy products such as milk and cheese.
- Do not smoke
Not only does smoking contribute to bad breath, tooth decay, and gum disease, but it can also lead to a number of cancers, including that of the mouth.
- Regular dentist visits
Although we already mentioned this before, we cannot stress it enough. Your dentist or dental hygienist should be your first point of reference when it comes to your oral health, so make sure you book your appointments twice a year, and always call should you experience any oral health issues.