Written by Danica Lacson on April 2, 2018
What is good oral hygiene?
Good oral hygiene is comprised of practices that result in a clean set of teeth, fresh breath, and a healthy mouth.
- Your teeth are free from food particles, stains, and evident plaque or tartar buildup.
- Your gums exhibit a healthy color of pink without signs of bleeding or pockets.
- Your breath smells good and bad breath is not a persistent problem.
If you are experiencing opposites of these expected results, it may be an indication of a dental problem that needs immediate attention. Also, it might be a sign that you are doing your oral care wrong.
It has been numerously emphasized that oral health is essential. It influences every part of our body including our overall health and quality of life.
We have been advised on the different ways we could take care of our teeth, gums, mouth, and other parts of our oral cavity including the basic oral care practices, dental visits, and more.
Why is excellent oral hygiene important?
Practicing good oral hygiene is imperative in maintaining the health of our teeth, gums, mouth, and other parts of the oral cavity which, in turn, play significant roles in keeping our overall health at its best condition.
Because the human body is interconnected such that one area affects the other areas, with proper oral hygiene, you do not only save your teeth from getting cavities, but you also keep other parts of your body healthy.
Moreover, a healthy mouth enables us to eat and drink appropriately without experiencing discomfort or pain. It also allows us to speak well and smile with confidence without worrying about bad breath or decayed teeth.
An excellent oral health condition also saves us from extensive and costly procedures because of poorly cared teeth.
What are good oral hygiene practices?
As in every health concerns, prevention will always be better than cure. Individuals should learn to give their oral health the attention it needs and deserves through subscribing to regular preventive measures.
Here are 10 easy yet effective ways on how to take care of your teeth:
#1 Brush thoroughly with the right tools, stroke, angle, length, and pressure
Since we are kids, we have already been taught to pick up the toothbrush and brush. As we grow old, the advice remains the same — thoroughly brush your teeth at least twice a day. However, it is not enough that we brush. We should brush properly.
Brushing starts with choosing the right toothbrush and toothpaste to help you clean your teeth. Lucky for us, a lot of options are available including electric-powered toothbrush and traditional toothbrush with various variants of toothpaste for our dental needs.
Aside from the tools, the stroke, angle, length, and pressure when brushing must also be considered.
When brushing, circular or vertical strokes are advised as they can get into the teeth’s crevices and remove plaque better than horizontal strokes. The angle of brushing should be at 45 degrees to the gums as brushing at this angle helps in removing the plaque that may have built up along the gum line.
Instead of brushing hard and fast, the proper way is to brush for two minutes. You can keep track of the time by listening to music or setting a timer. Also, contrary to what is often believed, brushing longer than the stipulated minutes is doing your teeth more harm than good as prolonged brushing can cause the wear of the enamel and soreness of the gums.
Remember to brush for two minutes, applying the right pressure. If you are having issues with your pressure, you can use an electric toothbrush which does the job for you.
#2 Learn Floss Properly
We know flossing can be a hassle sometimes but, like brushing, it is important in the maintenance of our oral health. Through flossing, we can rid our mouth of stubborn food particles or plaque that may have stuck between our teeth or unreachable by our toothbrush.
To floss using the traditional string floss, here are what you need to do:
- Wind 18 to 20 inches of the string around each hand’s middle finger.
- Use your index fingers and thumbs to press the string lightly. Make sure to leave one to two inches in between.
- With your thumbs, direct the string as you floss.
- For between contacts of the lower teeth, guide the string using your index finger.
- Glide the string in zigzag motion between the teeth, binding it around the side of each tooth.
- Gently move the string up and down against the surface of each tooth and slide it up below the gum line.
- Remember to use the clean section of the string for every tooth so as not to transfer bacteria.
#3 Rinse using Mouthwash
Also known as a mouth rinse, mouth bath, or oral rinse, mouthwash is an antiseptic solution gargled to aid in the prevention and treatment of dental issues such as bad breath, plaque buildup, gum disease, among others. It provides additional clean for the teeth, tongue, and mouth.
- For those with bad breath, a therapeutic mouthwash like antimicrobials can provide a long-term solution to the dental issue as it contains formulations and agents like essential oils, chlorine dioxide, terpene, among others that inhibit odor-causing compounds.
- For those with a plaque and periodontal disease like gingivitis, rinsing with mouthwash can reduce plaque and the risk of developing gingivitis due to the antimicrobial ingredient present in the mouthwash such as chlorhexidine which allows for better plaque control.
- For tooth decay, mouthwashes with fluoride ions can remineralize the teeth and lessen the chances of tooth decay.
- For those with dental pain, mouthwashes can also give topical pain relief thanks to the anesthetics in the mouthwash.
- For those with stained teeth, active ingredients in the mouthwash like carbamide peroxide and hydrogen peroxide help to reduce stain on teeth.
#4 Clean your Tongue
Cleaning your tongue is necessary for the achievement of optimum oral health condition. Majority of the bacteria in your mouth breed on the tongue’s surface.
There are a lot of ways to clean your tongue using the available objects at home including your toothbrush, a teaspoon, and a tongue scraper.
- Using your toothbrush: With a dab of toothpaste, gently brush the tongue’s surface beginning from the back of the tongue and moving toward the opening of the mouth. Rinse with water. Make sure to use a soft toothbrush and gentle pressure so as not to injure your tongue.
- Using a specialized toothbrush: A specialized toothbrush has a built-in tongue scraper which you can use to clean the tongue.
- Using a tongue scraper: Made of soft, flexible plastic, a tongue scraper is an effective way to get a mucus-based layer of debris out of the tongue and your mouth. Like brushing, start from the back, working towards the mouth’s opening then rinse. Do not forget to wash your scraper with warm water after use.
- Using a teaspoon: First, moisten the teaspoon. Start from the back then gently move towards the opening of the mouth. Rinse with water. When using a teaspoon, have it upside down.
#5 Clean your Toothbrush and Tongue Scraper
Maintain the cleanliness of the tools you use for your oral care. After use, give your toothbrush a good rinse. Although it may seem better to cover your toothbrush, the American Dental Association recommends otherwise. Instead of covering it, let your toothbrush to air dry.
Aside from your toothbrush, give your tongue scraper an excellent clean every after use as well.
#6 Change your Toothbrush
Although you may love your toothbrush now, get it replaced every three to four months or when the bristles begin to wear away, according to the American Dental Association. Having it replaced is vital as microorganisms can inhabit in your toothbrush which can be passed to your mouth when brushing. In turn, these microorganisms can cause oral infection. Additionally, it is better to have your toothbrush replaced after you have been sick to prevent sickness from recurring.
#7 Limit Your Sugar Intake and Eat Healthily
Bacteria love sugar. Too much sugar can lead to dental-related issues as they are used by bacteria as food to produce acid. Instead of sugary treats, snack on healthy alternatives like celery, carrot, apple, leafy vegetables, milk, cheese, yogurt, cashew, sesame seeds, broccoli, among others as these foods stimulate saliva production and contain antioxidants and vitamins.
#8 Stay Hydrated
Water is essential in keeping our mouth healthy because it washes away food particles, rinses out bacteria, and moistens the mouth to prevent dry mouth that can cause bad breath and other dental problems due to the limited supply of saliva.
#9 Say No to Smoking
Smoking is terrible for the body and can trigger diseases including cancer. Moreover, smoking can weaken the immune system and increase the risk of illnesses including gum diseases and tooth decay.
#10 Visit Your Dentist
A visit to the dentist is imperative especially in the prevention of dental diseases. Through routine dental check-up, early indications of oral-related issues can be detected, and immediate treatment can be provided. Additionally, a dental visit is usually comprised of professional teeth cleaning which can help fight off bacteria and rid the mouth of plaque buildup.
Disclaimer: The oral health information published on this web page is solely intended for educational purposes. Hawaii Family Dental strongly recommends to always consult licensed dentists or other qualified health care professionals for any questions concerning your oral health.