Oral hygiene refers to the care of your teeth and gums; it is a crucial part of maintaining a healthy and beautiful smile. Continue reading to learn everything you need to know about the different types of oral hygiene.
What is Oral Hygiene?
Oral hygiene is the term used to describe the practice of keeping the teeth and gums healthy. This is done through the following hygienic dental treatments:
- Flossing or using a Waterpik
- Prophylaxis dental cleanings (regular cleanings)
- Periodontal dental cleanings (scaling and root planing - designed for gum disease patients)
- Fluoride treatments (usually for children but can benefit adults)
- Protective dental sealants (usually for children)
Why is Oral Hygiene Important?
Oral hygiene is an essential part of maintaining a healthy smile - and consequently, a healthy body. Keeping up with your oral hygiene goes far beyond achieving or maintaining an attractive smile; it helps ensure that your teeth and gums are healthy, as well.
Bacteria accumulates on the surface of the teeth and gums in the form of a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque can be removed by thoroughly brushing and flossing twice daily. If proper oral hygiene is not practiced, plaque will harden into a substance known as tartar.
Tartar is bone-hard and can not be removed at home with brushing and flossing; it can only be removed with the use of professional dental tools.
The development of tartar makes it nearly impossible to thoroughly clean the teeth. Because of this, bacteria will continue to grow and multiply beneath the tartar. Over time - if professional treatment is not administered - the bacteria will begin to eat away at the tooth and bone structure, leading to gum disease.
What is Gum Disease?
Gum disease - known clinically as periodontal disease - is an infection of the gum tissues that is caused by high levels of harmful bacteria both above and below the gumline.
When left untreated, gum disease has the potential to cause the following symptoms:
- Chronic bad breath (halitosis)
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Loose teeth
- Tooth loss
- Gum recession
- Bone recession
Practising proper oral hygiene helps ensure that you are protected from developing gum disease. If you have already developed gum disease, practising proper oral hygiene will ensure that your condition does not progress or worsen.
How to Practice Proper Oral Hygiene
Now that you understand the importance of your oral health, it is important to understand how you can keep your teeth and gums healthy with proper oral hygiene practices.
Smoking and Tobacco Use
Avoiding smoking and tobacco products is always recommended; in addition to posing a serious risk to your overall health, tobacco products can lead to:
- Increased risk of gum disease
- Stained or yellowed tooth enamel
- Increased risk of oral cancer
- Dry mouth
If you are an active smoker or tobacco product user, it is best to quit as soon as possible to maintain both your oral and overall health.
The foods and beverages you eat and drink have a large impact on your oral health. Below is a list of foods that can damage or stain the tooth enamel:
- Soft drink
- Acidic fruits
While the foods and beverages mentioned above are safe to consume in moderation, it is best to avoid them whenever possible to protect the enamel of your teeth. Below are some examples of foods that are good for your teeth:
- Dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Sugar-free chewing gum
- Water (fluoridated if possible)
Proper Home Care
To keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, it is best to brush and floss twice each day.
When you brush, be sure to thoroughly brush the entirety of the mouth for two minutes. Brushing for two minutes ensures that you are able to remove harmful plaque or food particles. Flossing between the teeth helps remove food particles and plaque that can not be reached or removed with regular brushing.
Some people forget to brush twice daily, or they find that it feels like a chore to brush for a full two minutes. Make an effort to add your oral care routine as part of your daily schedule so that there is no chance of forgetting.
If you find it difficult to brush for the recommended two minutes, try putting on your favourite two-minute song while you brush. This is a great way to keep your mind occupied and to have a bit of fun while properly caring for your teeth.
Professional Dental Cleanings
Even if you practice proper oral home care, it is extremely important that you visit your dentist for professional check-ups and cleaning appointments.
During your dental cleaning, your hygienist will remove all signs of plaque and tartar from the mouth. The health of your teeth and gums will also be thoroughly examined; issues that might have otherwise gone undetected can be treated quickly and effectively before they become serious.
FY Smile: Your Local Dentist in Double Bay, Sydney.
Here at FY Smile, we are fully dedicated to helping you manage not only a healthy smile, but a healthy body, as well.
For more information about maintaining your oral hygiene, or to make an appointment at our Double Bay dental office, give us a call anytime at 02 8319 5557.