Home Dentistry Articles Oral hygiene
Oral hygiene is keeping the mouth clean. Oral
hygiene is considered to be the best means of prevention of
cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, periodontitis, and other
dental disorders. It also helps to prevent bad breath (halitosis).
Oral hygiene is necessary for all persons to maintain the health
of their teeth and mouth. Healthy teeth have fewer cavities.
They are clean and have minimal or no plaque deposits. Healthy
gums are pink and firm.
Oral hygiene consists of both personal and
professional care. Dental X-rays may be performed as part of
routine professional examinations.
Careful and frequent toothbrushing and flossing
help to prevent build-up of plaque and calculus (tartar), which
can lead to cavities. If dental cavities develop, it can cost
thousands of dollars (US) to drill out the cavities and insert
The teeth should be brushed at least twice
daily, preferably after every meal and at bedtime, and flossed
at least once per day. For some people, flossing might be recommended
after every meal. Consult a dentist or dental hygienist if instruction
or demonstration of proper brushing and flossing techniques
Special appliances or tools may be recommended
to supplement (but not to replace) tooth brushing and flossing.
These include special toothpicks, water irrigation, or other
devices. Initially electric toothbrushes were only recommended
for persons who have problems with strength or dexterity of
their hands, but many dentists are now recommending them to
many other patients in order to improve their dental home care.
Fluoride-containing, or anti-plaque (tartar
control) toothpastes or mouth rinses may be recommended by the
dentist or dental hygienist.
Dentures, retainers, and other appliances must
be kept extremely clean. This includes regular brushing and
may include soaking them in a cleansing solution.
Regular tooth cleaning by the dentist or dental
hygienist is important to remove plaque that may develop even
with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that
are difficult for a patient to reach on his own at home. Professional
cleaning includes tooth scaling and tooth polishing. This involves
the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove
deposits from the teeth.
Many dentists recommend having the teeth professionally
cleaned every six months. More frequent cleaning and examination
may be necessary during the treatment of many of the dental/oral
disorders. Routine examination of the teeth is recommended at
least every year. This may include yearly, select dental X-rays.
See also dental plaque identification procedure and removal.
Good oral hygiene prevents, and is vital to
the treatment of, many of the dental and oral disorders. Good
oral hygiene results in healthy teeth and mouth.
Usually there are no complications; however,
overly vigorous or improperly performed brushing and flossing
may result in injury to the gingiva (gums).
Call the dentist or dental hygienist if instructions
or demonstration of proper brushing or flossing techniques is
needed, or to schedule routine dental cleaning and examination.