Oral hygiene: Keeping your teeth clean
Oral or Dental Hygiene refers to the regimen required to maintain a clean, healthy smile with odorless breath. Follow this simple routine and you can enjoy a healthy smile for years to come!
Brush at least twice daily: Plaque, a sticky bacterial substance, begins to form within 4 to 12 hours after brushing, so try to brush after every meal or snack if possible. If plaque is left to accumulate on teeth, it begins to release an acid as the plaque bacteria uses the starch and sugar from the food in the mouth. This acid corrodes the tooth enamel over time, which creates holes or cavities in the teeth. Additionally, plaque irritates the gums, resulting in bleeding gums and bad breath.
Proper Brushing Technique: When brushing, select a brush with soft nylon bristles; avoid hard bristles as they can cause gum damage. Using short, circular strokes, gently brush back and forth where the teeth meet the gum line, brushing away from the gum line to remove plaque and debris. Follow this procedure on both the insides and outsides of the teeth, paying special attention to the molars. To help freshen breath, brush both your tongue and the roof of your mouth. A proper brushing should last 2 to 3 minutes. When finished, spit out the remaining toothpaste; you may follow up with antiseptic mouthwash.
Follow up with Flossing: If you skip flossing between your teeth, you will be missing 40% of your tooth surfaces. Flossing helps remove plaque from between teeth and under the gum line, areas which cannot be reached by the toothbrush. Gently floss at least once a day, and preferably floss after each meal.
Regular Dental Visits: An integral part of your oral hygiene involves regular visits to your dentist for professional cleaning, removal of calculus deposits, diagnostic x-rays and identification of changes in the bite that may have occurred. The ADA recommends that patients visit their dentist at least two times each year to maintain proper oral hygiene.
Symptoms of Improper Oral Hygiene
- Bleeding Gums
- Painful Gums
- Yellow or brown deposits on teeth (Tartar or Calculus from plaque buildup)
- Persistent bad or foul smelling breath
- Loose Teeth
- Widening Gaps between teeth
Consequences of improper dental hygiene
- Tartar or calculus – Constant accumulation of plaque results in the hardening of plaque into a yellow or brown mineral deposit called tartar or calculus. Tartar buildup leads to gum disease as it is forms below the gum line.
- Tooth Decay - Cavities
- Bad or Foul Breath
- Gingivitis – The initial stage of gum disease characterized by inflammation of the gums and painless bleeding during brushing and flossing
- Periodontitis –Advanced gum disease which results in the destruction of structures supporting the teeth including the bone. Periodontitis causes teeth to loosen and eventually fall out or require their removal.
- Tooth Loss
- Supporting Bone Loss