Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping mouth and teeth clean in order to maintain good dental and periodontal health. Good oral hygiene can be achieved with following measures.
Teeth cleaning is the removal of dental plaque and tartar from teeth in order to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Severe gum disease causes at least one-third of adult tooth loss. Generally, dentists recommend that teeth be cleaned professionally at least twice per year. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling, tooth polishing, and, if too much tartar has built up, debridement. This is usually followed by a fluoride treatment for children and adults. Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene is essential for preventing tartar build-up which causes the problems mentioned above. This is done by carefully and frequently brushing with a toothbrush and the use of dental floss to prevent accumulation of plaque on the teeth.
Periodontist nowadays prefer the use of interdental brushes to dental floss. Apart from being gentler to the gums, it also carries less risk for hard dental tissue damage. There are different sizes of brushes that are recommended according to the size of the interdental space.
Dental specialists recommend daily use of a tongue cleaner as an essential way to remove the debris coating the tongue, composed of a large variety of bacteria, oral fungi, decaying food particles, and dead cells, that all together generate bad breath (also called halitosis) and may affect the health of teeth and gums (tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontitis). The protein rich surface of the tongue harbors the highest amount of bacteria thriving in the oralcavity. That explains the utmost importance of thoroughly cleaning the tongue with a properly designed tongue cleaner.
The use of dental floss is an important element of the oral hygiene, since it removes the plaque and the decaying food remains stuck between the teeth. This food decay and plaque cause irritation to the gums, allowing the gum tissue to bleed more easily. Flossing for a proper inter-dental cleaning is recommended at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, to help prevent receding gums, gum disease, and cavities between the teeth.
Massaging gums is generally recommended for good oral health. Flossing is recommended at least once per day, preferably before bed, to help prevent receding gums, gum disease, and cavities between the teeth.
Dentists don't usually recommend oral irrigation as a great way to really clean teeth and gums. Although oral irrigators get what tooth brushes and floss can't reach - 3-4 mm under the gum line - the jet stream is not strong enough to remove plaque and tartar, so the only result of this procedure is just a feeling of cleanliness and freshness, not disruption of plaque and bacteria.
Foods that help muscles and bones also help teeth and gums. Breads and cereals are rich in vitamin B while fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, both of which contribute to healthy gum tissue. Lean meat, fish, and poultry provide magnesium and zinc for teeth. Dentists recommend that teeth be brushed after every meal and at bedtime, and flossed at least once per day, preferably at night before sleep. For some people, flossing might be recommended after every meal.
Some foods may protect against cavities. Fluoride is a primary protector against dental cavities. Fluoride makes the surface of teeth more resistant to acids during the process of remineralisation. Drinking fluoridated water is recommended by some dental professionals while others say that using toothpaste alone is enough. Milk and cheese are also rich in calcium and phosphate, and may also encourage remineralisation. All foods increase saliva production, and since saliva contains buffer chemicals this helps to stabilize the pH to near 7 (neutral) in the mouth. Foods high in fibre may also help to increase the flow of saliva. Sugar-free chewing gums stimulate saliva production, and help to clean the surface of the teeth.
Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities. Other carbohydrates, especially cooked starches, e.g. crisps/potato chips, may also damage teeth, although to a lesser degree since starch has to be converted by enzymes in saliva first.
Sucrose or table sugar is most commonly associated with cavities. The amount of sugar consumed at any one time is less important than how often food and drinks that contain sugar are consumed. The more frequently sugars are consumed, the greater the time during which the tooth is exposed to low pH levels, at which point demineralization occurs (below 5.5 for most people). It is important therefore to try to encourage infrequent consumption of food and drinks containing sugar so that teeth have a chance to be repaired by remineralisation and fluoride. Limiting sugar containing foods and drinks to meal times is one way to reduce the incidence of cavities. Sugars from fruit and fruit juices, e.g., glucose, fructose, and maltose seem equally likely to cause cavities.
Acids contained in fruit juice and soft drinks lower the pH level of the oral cavity which causes the enamel to dematerialize. Drinking drinks such as orange juice or cola throughout the day raises the risk of dental cavities tremendously.
Another factor which affects the risk of developing cavities is the stickiness of foods. Some foods or sweets may stick to the teeth and so reduce the pH in the mouth for an extended time, particularly if they are sugary. It is important that teeth be cleaned at least twice a day, preferably with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, to remove any food sticking to the teeth. Regular brushing and the use of dental floss also removes the dental plaque coating the tooth surface
Chewing gum assists oral irrigation between and around the teeth, cleaning and removing particles, but for teeth in poor condition it may damage or remove loose fillings as well.
Habits such as smoking, chewing of betel nut other forms of tobacco etc have extremely bad effect in oral health as besides causing tooth staining and other periodontal problems it is also one of the biggest reason for causing oral cancer.
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