What is dental hygiene?
Dental hygiene refers to care for teeth to keep them looking clean and healthy. It is part of maintaining good oral hygiene that includes:
- Keeping teeth clean and debris-free.
- Ensuring healthy gums that are pink in colour and do not hurt when one brushes or floss.
- No bad breath.
Dental hygiene should be part of everyone’s dental preventive care and can be managed through simple activities practised daily along with regular check ups with the dentist.
Why does one need dental hygiene?
Dental hygiene is important to keep teeth healthy and control teeth problems before they become painful, worrisome and expensive to treat. Healthy teeth and gums enable people to eat and speak properly, while also making one look and feel good. Dental hygiene can affect or be affected by various diseases and conditions:
- Pregnancy – Periodontitis can cause premature birth or low birth weight.
- Diabetes – Diabetics are more prone to gum diseases.
- Heart conditions – Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of the heart and occurs when bacteria from other parts of the body, like the mouth, spread and damage region in the heart.
Which specialist should be consulted for dental hygiene?
A dentist or dental hygienist can provide guidance with techniques for good dental hygiene and also point out specific areas that should be given extra attention to while brushing or flossing teeth. The dentist or dental hygienist can chart out a regular dental check-up plan for individual requirements.
What is the procedure for dental hygiene?
Good oral hygiene is a combination of regular dentist visits for procedures and a daily regimen to keep teeth and gums clean.
- Dental check up: A dentist will check for any dental problems and carry out certain procedures like scaling and polishing of teeth, along with fluoride application and fissure sealants. Regular check ups are essential for early detection and control of tooth problems.
- Daily dental care regimen: Apart from regular visits to the dentist, practising good oral hygiene every day can prevent serious teeth problems.
Some must do’s for oral hygiene:
- Choose the right toothbrush and discard it timely.
- Brush teeth twice a day.
- Floss daily.
- Use proper technique for brushing and flossing.
- Keep a healthy diet.
- Rinse mouth after every meal.
- Use dental hygiene products like mouthwashes and toothpaste containing fluoride, as advised by the dentist.
Must don’ts for oral hygiene:
- Limit snacking in between meals.
- Don’t use mouthwash immediately after brushing teeth. Don’t eat or drink for 30 minutes after using a fluoride mouthwash.
- Avoid the use of toothpicks to remove food trapped between teeth. Toothpicks can cause gum bleeding, which can progress to an infection.
Let’s take a look at proper techniques in brushing and flossing:
Proper brushing technique:
- When the head of the toothbrush is placed against the teeth, the bristles should be angled at 45 degrees against the gum line.
- Small circular movements should be used to move the bristles over the surface of teeth.
- The above action should be repeated throughout the outer and inner surfaces of upper and lower teeth.
- The chewing surface of each tooth should be brushed thoroughly.
- The inside surfaces of the front teeth can be cleaned by tilting the brush vertically and making several circular strokes. Pressure should be applied through the front part of the brush.
- It is important to brush the tongue too as it can harbour bacteria. Cleaning of tongue will not only remove bacteria but also freshen breath.
Proper flossing technique:
Flossing should be part of one’s daily oral hygiene regimen. It helps to dislodge food remains stuck between teeth and plaque that forms along the gum line to reduce risk towards gum disease and bad breath. Here are the steps for flossing teeth:
- 12-18 inches of floss thread is required. The ends of the thread should be grasped tightly.
- The floss slips between teeth and gums, and goes as far below as it can go.
- Eight to ten up and down strokes on each tooth is sufficient to dislodge food particles and plaque.
- It is important to floss at least once a day. Flossing can be done before or after brushing, though the best time to floss is before going to bed.
What precautions or steps are necessary to stay healthy and happy before and after dental hygiene?
Maintaining dental hygiene is a crucial means of not only controlling the spread of existing teeth problems, but it also acts as a preventive measure in keeping serious oral ailments at bay. Smoking should be avoided as it leads to discolouration of teeth and is detrimental to one’s dental hygiene efforts.
“Dental health,” NHS.uk, http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/dentalhealth/Pages/Dentalhome.aspx
“Oral health: A window to your overall health,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00001
“Oral health: Brush up on dental care basics,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental/DE00003
“Dental exam,” MayoClinic.com, Mayo Clinic Staff, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dental-exam/MY01097
“What is Good Oral Hygiene?” Colgate Oral and DentalHealth Resource Center, http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Oral-Hygiene/Oral-Hygiene-Basics/article/What-is-Good-Oral-Hygiene.cvsp