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Oral Hygiene

A Guide to Oral Hygiene

At any age, oral hygiene is one of the most important things for individuals to consider, as it can often be the difference between a bright smile and paying a lot of money for dental treatment.

The term itself refers to the practice of ensuring the mouth is both healthy and clean following regular and correct flossing and brushing routines, which can prevent the formation of plaque and subsequently dental decay and gum disease.

What is the purpose of dental hygiene?

A suitable dental and oral hygiene routine can:

  • Help with the prevention of plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the hard surfaces of pearly whites. This can result in a number of issues – including tooth decay, tartar, gingivitis and gum disease – if left untreated.
  • Improve a patient’s quality of life by assisting their speech and eating functions, as oral health will last longer if this is kept up, while individuals will not have to contend with the embarrassment of bad breath or missing fixtures.

What are the results of good oral health?

Those people who keep on top of their dental hygiene are usually able to enjoy clean and debris-free teeth, pink gums that do not hurt or bleed during brushing and flossing, as well as a mouth that is free from regular episodes of bad breath.

Symptoms of poor dental hygiene:

  • Bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Yellow or brown stains on teeth
  • Loose or widening gaps between pearly whites

What can happen if I do not take care of my teeth?

There are a number of implications for individuals who fail to take appropriate care of their teeth and gums, including dental cavities, tooth decay, gum irritation and bad breath – as plaque is left to accumulate on the hard surfaces of pearly whites, which then mixes with sugar and starch found in certain foods.

This can lead to the corrosion of the protective layer of enamel that covers the front surface of the teeth and result in the formation of holes, as well as this, the problem can lead to bleeding.

Cavities can be cleaned and refilled with an inert material during a single visit to a dental professional that will retain and restore the pearly whites, as well as protect them from further decay.

If they are left untreated, it can result in the loss of an entire tooth.

What about other issues?

Gingivitis is the initial stage of gum disease and is usually diagnosed by:

  • Painless bleeding during brushing and flossing
  • Inflammation of the tooth’s surrounding tissue

Periodontitis occurs when this problem is left to reach the advanced stages and can lead to the destruction of structures supporting the pearly whites including the bone, which causes the loosening of teeth and requires their removal as a result.

The early signs of this condition are swollen, red, bleeding gums that shrink away from the permanent fixtures. This results in widening spaces between the teeth and exposed root surfaces that are highly vulnerable to decay.

Tartar develops due to the constant accumulation of plaque as a result of irregular brushing and flossing, which then hardens into a yellow or brown mineral deposit. The substance’s rough surface causes pearly whites to become ideal locations for further bacteria growth, which then leads to gum disease when left to build up below the line of the tissue.

How can I maintain good oral health?

The appropriate dental and oral hygiene will prevent the formation of harmful substances on the pearly whites, which can ultimately be the main factor that leads to gum disease and tooth decay.

Parents are advised to guide their children as to the proper methods to use on a daily basis, while also seeking counsel from a dental professional about the appropriate practices to be followed.

Using antiseptic mouthwashes after brushing or flossing will kill plaque-forming bacteria and is particularly beneficial for those individuals who suffer from bad breath.

Consumption of fluoride will also assist individuals in protecting and strengthening their pearly whites by combining with enamel. This substance can also be found in drinking water or some specialised dental treatments, as well as supplements.

What precautions can I take?

Taking care of teeth and gums from an early age is the most effective way of informing children of the importance of oral health as soon as possible. On top of this, there are a number of precautions that must be taken at various stages in life and under very particular conditions:

Children – a moist cloth or soft-bristled toothbrush can be utilised to wipe the pearly whites clean, while using limited quantities of toothpaste is advised.

Adults – those with partial or full dentures must maintain the appropriate levels of dental hygiene as instructed by their dedicated professional in order to prevent the development of certain issues.

Brushing and flossing:

  • Both tasks must be conducted thoroughly but not too vigorously, as rough movements can irritate or damage sensitive tissues.
  • Bleeding and sore gums in the first few days after the chore is carried out is perfectly normal, but patients are urged to contact their dentist if this lasts for longer than a week.

Regular dentist trips at least once every six months are also advised to monitor dental and overall oral health.

Professional dental cleaning including fluoride treatments, sealant application and scaling will help scrape off any harmful substances that could worsen over time.

Treatment services such as fillings, crowns and bridges will assist in restoring and retaining pearly whites to their natural best if the issue is caught in time.

Diagnostics like X-rays and oral cancer screening can benefit an individual’s wider wellbeing.

What about diet?

Consumption of a balanced diet that is rich in fruit and vegetables plays a vital role in dental health.

Items that are high in fibre can help to increase the saliva flow, which neutralises acids and assists in cleaning the pearly whites of food particles and sugars during chewing.

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