What is Oral Hygiene? And why is it important?

ORAL HYGIENE

Oral hygiene is critical for healthy teeth and gums. This involves brushing and flossing daily. It would be best if you also visited your dentist regularly for dental checkups and cleanings. A lack of good oral hygiene affects the mouth and can lead to other diseases.

What is oral hygiene?

Oral hygiene is keeping one’s mouth clean and free of disease and other problems (for example, bad breath) by brushing one’s teeth and cleaning between the teeth regularly.

You must practise oral hygiene regularly to avoid tooth disease and bad breath. The most common dental problems are tooth decay (cavities, dental caries) and gum disorders such as gingivitis and periodontitis.

Good oral hygiene leads to a healthy mouth and teeth. This means:

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  • Your teeth are clean and debris-free.
  • When you brush or floss, your gums are pink and don’t pain or bleed.
  • Bad breath is not always a concern.

Consult your dentist if your gums ache or bleed when brushing or flossing or if you have recurrent bad breath. Any of these symptoms might suggest a problem.

What are the advantages of good oral hygiene?

1. Healthier teeth and gums

Deposition of sticky biofilm formed by pathogenic microbes can degrade the tooth surface, resulting in cavity formation, dental decay, and tooth loss. Healthy teeth imply more significant chewing function and, eventually, better health.

Also, gum health is the cornerstone for strong and healthy teeth. Regular gum care minimises bacterial development, which can otherwise lead to infectious gum disorders, one of the most prevalent causes of adult tooth loss.

2. Beautiful smile

 While we may use whitening procedures to whiten your teeth, merely brushing them with a tooth-whitening, fluoride toothpaste daily can help wipe away any stains or discolouration.

Mild abrasives in toothpaste remove dirt and surface stains, keeping your teeth appearing clean, healthy, and white. This is the recipe for a beautiful smile.

3. Fresher breath

Have you ever presented a mint to a coworker or a friend because you couldn’t stand their breath?

Bad breath, often known as halitosis, is caused by bacteria in your mouth, which eventually forms plaque.

Brushing and frequent cleanings help eliminate plaque and prevent calculus from forming on your teeth. It’s also a cheap and efficient way to eliminate food and bacteria from your mouth and keep your breath feeling fresh.

4. Reduced risk of oral cancer

You can prevent oral cancers by maintaining a healthy mouth and practising proper oral hygiene. Regular dental examinations reduce the possibility of cancer development since dentists search for any such signs in addition to routine checkups.

5. Reduced need for dental work

Between the costs of fixing cavities, filling, crowns, dentures or replacing teeth with dental implants, taking care of your oral health can save you thousands in health care expenditures throughout your life.

A few toothpaste tubes, floss, and frequent checkups are a tiny amount to pay for total health and well-being.

6. Lowered risk of diseases

Recent research by Penn Medicine has connected heart attacks and strokes to gum disease caused by poor dental hygiene. Proper oral hygiene and expert teeth cleaning at a dental clinic every six months assist in maintaining teeth and gums healthy and lowering the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Gum disease also impacts glucose metabolism, raising blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.

What are the signs of poor oral hygiene?

Several warning indicators may suggest oral health issues. The following are the most prevalent indications of inadequate oral hygiene:

1. Bleeding gums

Bleeding, swelling, or changes in gum colour indicate a problem with your oral hygiene. There might be a problem with your gum health. An irritant behind the gums causes moderate swelling.

2. Tooth decay

Although it’s difficult to see inside your mouth, pay attention to the appearance of your teeth and be on the lookout for brown or black areas, which might be cavities/ tooth decay.

Cavities are caused by oral bacteria and a high-sugar/starch diet, which are aggravated by poor dental care.

3. Chronically bad breath

Bad breath might be caused by dry mouth or the meals and beverages you intake. However, gum disease and gingivitis can also add to the annoyance of chronic bad breath.

Beyond your teeth and gums, chronic bad breath might indicate underlying health issues that require rapid medical treatment. Among these conditions are:

  • Sinus infections
  • Chronic pulmonary infection
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Diabetes

4. Loose teeth

Teeth that loosen or fall out unexpectedly indicate severe gum disease. Tooth loss can also be an early indicator of osteoporosis, a condition that reduces bone density and affects the bones.

5. Receding gums

Neglecting your oral hygiene for years or failing to devote the time required for a complete cleaning may result in your gums receding. Gum disease exposes the roots of the teeth, and this exposure indicates considerable deterioration.

Surgery or professional dental cleaning are the best treatment options.

6. Mouth sores

Sores and odd patches in your mouth may indicate a benign condition, such as a white or yellowish canker sore. But there is no way to know unless you visit a dentist. Check any new lesions, spots, or lumps with your dentist immediately.

These can be the consequence of a fungal infection in the mouth or something more serious.

7. Sensitivity

Do you have a sharp pain in your mouth after having anything cold? This indicates that you have dental sensitivity. This discomfort is also felt by some people when they consume hot foods.

This is quite prevalent, and we frequently ignore it. However, it might be a sign of an underlying oral infection.

8. Jaw pain

The cause of jaw pain might be grinding or clenching, which you may perform consciously or subconsciously throughout the day. Sometimes people do it while sleeping, which is known as Sleep Bruxism.

Anxiety, worry, or anything else might be the cause of this. If the grinding and clenching are not addressed promptly, it can lead to tooth damage and significant discomfort.

Why is oral hygiene important?

Good oral/dental health relates to general health. Cavities and gum disease can affect your ability to chew and talk properly and create discomfort and bad breath.

Many individuals are unaware that poor oral health may profoundly impact areas other than the mouth, such as your heart, cause diabetes, affect pregnancy, and cause chronic inflammation, such as arthritis.

Studies by Colgate suggest that gum disease bacteria can move to your heart and could cause heart disease, blocked arteries, or stroke. Periodontitis, a gum infection, has been associated with preterm deliveries and low birth weight in pregnant women.

Diabetes lowers the body’s resistance to infection, making the gums more vulnerable to disease and potentially affecting blood sugar levels. And severe mouth sores are typical among HIV patients.

Good dental hygiene is essential since it can help avoid oral illness and dental disorders. As we know, prevention is always better than cure.

What conditions can be linked to oral health?

Oral health encompasses far more than the health of the mouth, teeth, and gums. Because the mouth is the body’s primary entry point, poor oral health can harm the entire body.

Teeth pain, gums that bleed, and bad breath are all signs of poor oral health. Bacteria from the mouth can quickly enter circulation, where they can cause infection and inflammation.

To avoid severe risks to the body’s overall health, it is essential to practise proper oral hygiene and see your dentist regularly.

Here are some of the most prevalent and significant health issues caused by poor oral hygiene.

1. Endocarditis

This infection of the inner layer of your heart chambers or valves (endocardium) usually happens when bacteria or other germs from some other part of your body, such as your mouth, move through the circulation and attach to specific locations in your heart.

2. Cardiovascular disease

Although the link is not entirely understood, some evidence shows that inflammation and infections caused by oral bacteria may be connected to heart disease, blocked arteries, and stroke.

3. Pregnancy and birth complications

Hormonal changes in the body during pregnancy might make it much easier for a woman to get oral infections. Any infection in the mother’s body raises her chances of having complications throughout her pregnancy.

Premature delivery and low birth weight in babies have been linked to maternal oral health issues such as periodontitis and gingivitis. Gum disease puts the mother and the baby at risk of significant health problems.

4. Pneumonia

Poor oral health might have an impact on the respiratory system. Bacteria from diseased teeth and swollen gums in the mouth can be inhaled into the lungs or transmitted via circulation.

Bacteria in the mouth can reach the lungs and cause pneumonia and other respiratory problems.

5. Diabetes

People with diabetes are not only predisposed to infection, such as infected gums that contribute to periodontal disease, but periodontal disease can also make diabetes more difficult to manage.

Gum disease can cause blood sugar levels to spike, exacerbating symptoms. It is crucial for people with diabetes to maintain proper oral health to avoid problems. Poor oral health is more likely to develop diabetes because gum disease can result in higher-than-normal blood sugar levels.

6. HIV/AIDS

Oral problems, such as painful mucosal sores, are frequent in HIV/AIDS patients.

7. Osteoporosis

This bone-weakening condition is connected to tooth loss and periodontal bone loss. Certain osteoporosis medications offer a minor risk of causing jaw bone loss.

8. Alzheimer’s disease

As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, so does oral health.

Ways to keep your teeth healthy

1. Brush your teeth before going to bed

It should be no surprise that brushing your teeth at least twice a day is typically advised. Brushing before bed removes bacteria and plaque that collect throughout the day.

2. Brush properly

How you brush your teeth is equally crucial; in fact, doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is nearly as terrible as not brushing at all.

To remove plaque, take your time and use soft, circular strokes with your toothbrush. Unremoved plaque can harden and cause calculus and gingivitis (early gum disease).

3. Don’t neglect your tongue

Plaque can also accumulate on your tongue, and this can not only cause bad breath but can also lead to other oral health problems. When you brush your teeth, make sure to clean your tongue thoroughly.

4. Use a fluoride toothpaste

Regarding toothpaste, there are factors to consider other than whitening power and flavour. Make sure the one you choose contains fluoride.

While some are concerned about the effects of fluoride on other aspects of health, this element remains an essential component of oral health. This is due to fluoride’s potent anti-cavity properties, and it works by battling microorganisms that cause decay and acting as a protective barrier for your teeth.

5. Treat flossing as important as brushing 

Many people who brush their teeth every day don’t floss. Flossing is helpful for more than just eliminating food particles between your teeth, and it stimulates the gums, reduces plaque, and reduces inflammation in the area.

Flossing once a day is generally sufficient.

6. Don’t let flossing difficulties stop you

Flossing may be challenging, especially for small children and older adults with arthritis. Rather than giving up, search for equipment to assist you in flossing your teeth. Pre-packaged dental flossers from the drugstore might be of assistance.

7. Consider using mouthwash

Mouthwash is an essential part of your regimen since it decreases the amount of acid in your mouth, cleans hard-to-brush places in the mouth and around the gums, and remineralises the teeth.

8. Drink more water

Water is the healthiest beverage for general health, including dental health. Generally, it is best to drink water after each meal. Brushing can help remove some of the detrimental effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages.

9. Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables

Ready-to-eat meals are convenient, but they may be harmful to your teeth. Fresh, crisp vegetables contain more fibre and are the healthiest choice for your teeth. For kids, avoid mushy manufactured foods, stop putting things into little bits, and let them put their jaws to use.

10. Limit sugary and acidic foods

Sugar eventually turns into acid in the mouth, which can destroy the enamel of your teeth, and these acids cause cavities. Acidic meals, beverages, and coffee all have the potential to destroy tooth enamel. While you don’t need to avoid such foods altogether, it never hurts to be informed.

11. At least twice a year, visit your dentist

Your daily practises critical to your overall oral health. Even the most conscientious brushers and flossers need to see the dentist regularly, and your dentist should do cleanup and examinations at least twice a year.

A dentist may not only remove calculus and check for cavities, but they can also identify possible problems and recommend treatment options.

12. Don’t smoke

Smoking may discolour your teeth and cause bad breath. Smoking can cause various health problems, but it also significantly raises your risk of gum disease.

Tips to Boost Your Oral Hygiene Routine

1. Wait before you brush

Do you usually start your day with a glass of orange juice? If so, you should wait a few minutes before cleaning your teeth.

Acidic meals and drinks with a low pH weaken the enamel of the teeth momentarily. According to Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. research, quickly following up with brushing may remove some of the enamel, leaving your teeth more prone to decay over time.

Brushing your teeth a while after having citrus fruits and juices, tomatoes, cola, or alcohol is your best bet. According to one research, participants who waited 30 to 60 minutes after consuming soda to clean their teeth had more minor damage than those who brushed sooner.

2. Switch to a soft-bristled brush

You’re probably aware that you should replace your toothbrush every two to three months (or earlier if the bristles are frayed), but if you’re using a stiff brush, probably replace it immediately. Brushes with medium and firm bristles may feel good, but they can be pretty abrasive—and destructive over time.

3. Start by brushing in the back

This healthy practice may mean you clean those hard-to-reach regions better, which is essential because the nooks and corners in your molars make them more prone to gum disease and cavities.

Starting your brushing routine in the back of your mouth (at least occasionally) is an excellent method to give the back of your mouth the attention it needs.

4. Add mouthwash and gum to your routine

You might think that brushing and flossing twice a day is enough. However, rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash will destroy more oral bacteria, assisting in the fight against plaque. Swish vigorously for 30 seconds after brushing and flossing twice a day.

Another suggestion is to chew gum. Sugar-free gum can help decrease germs in your mouth and boost salivary flow, which bathes the teeth in calcium and phosphate ions that help replace tooth enamel.

5. Don’t brush too often

Brushing after each meal used to be recommended but not anymore. Brushing your teeth too frequently might harm your gums and enamel, so brushing twice daily is sufficient.

6. Limit sugary drinks

Limiting your intake of sugary beverages benefits your oral health. The sugar in these drinks binds to your teeth and stimulates the growth of germs in the oral cavity.

7. Eat teeth-whitening foods

Certain foods can genuinely improve the look and brightness of your teeth.

Fibre-rich foods like celery, cucumbers, apples, pears, carrots, and lettuce can help clean the tooth surfaces and eliminate plaque that has collected between teeth and gums.

8. Wash your toothbrush holder

When was the last time you cleaned your toothbrush holder?

Yes! It is critical to keep your brushes in a clean environment.

Make care to clean the toothbrush holder regularly to avoid any dirt or germ buildup on your brushes. Because your bathroom may contain more germs, it is best to store your toothbrushes outside.

Summary

Poor oral and dental health can affect self-esteem, communication, and nutrition and may also impact your comfort and general quality of life. Many dental and oral disorders arise without warning, and visiting a dentist regularly for a checkup and examination is the best approach to detect an issue before it worsens.

In the end, your long-term success is determined by your efforts. Although you cannot always avoid every cavity, you may lower your risk of severe gum disease and tooth loss by maintaining good oral hygiene regularly.

FAQ’s

1.  How frequently should I visit my dentist for examinations and cleanings?

The general guideline is that you should see the dentist every six months. According to studies, people with no problems can visit once a year, while those with dental issues should go every 3 or 4 months.

2.  What is the golden rule for oral hygiene?

Here are a few golden rules for oral hygiene:
 
1) Brush your teeth carefully using fluoride-rich toothpaste.
2) Every two to three months, replace your toothbrush
3) Use soft or medium bristles instead of stiff bristles
4) Thoroughly floss each tooth gap and remove any visible remaining particles.

3. How can I strengthen my teeth naturally?

Calcium is essential for healthy teeth since it helps build your enamel. You may know that dairy products are high in calcium, but so are leafy greens, legumes, and nuts.

4. What vitamin is good for teeth?

The following are the five most essential vitamins for teeth and gum health:
1 ·  Calcium
2 · Phosphorus
3 · Vitamin D
4 · Vitamin C
5 · Vitamin A

5. What vitamins should I take for receding gums?

A lack of vitamin B can result in receding gums, mucous membrane sensitivity, and toothaches. Vitamin B enhances oral health, prevents canker sores, and lowers tongue inflammation. Fish, meat, chicken, green leafy vegetables, beans, legumes, and mushrooms are all excellent sources of vitamin B.

6. Is milk good for your teeth?

Yes, milk contains calcium and phosphorus, essential for keeping teeth strong, and casein protein, which protects teeth from acid decay.

7. What are the four causes of tooth decay?

The four causes of tooth decay are
1 · Poor oral hygiene: Oral hygiene issues are one of the leading causes of tooth decay.
2 · Poor dietary habits:. Patients who consume a diet high in sticky or acidic meals and beverages are putting their teeth at risk of decay.
3 · Location of the tooth
4 · Acids in the stomach

8. How do you massage receding gums?

You can massage your gums immediately behind your teeth with your index finger. Apply slight pressure and begin massaging in a circular motion. It is normal to feel some soreness and pressure, but if you are suffering pain, stop immediately and visit a dentist.

9. What are the five proper steps for oral care?

Here are the top five oral hygiene steps.
Step 1: Brush your teeth twice a day.
STEP 2: Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste
STEP 3: Floss after brushing
STEP 4: Begin using a rinse or mouthwash
STEP 5: Change your toothbrush more frequently


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The Information including but not limited to text, graphics, images and other material contained on this blog are intended for education and awareness only. No material on this blog is intended to be a substitute for professional medical help including diagnosis or treatment. It is always advisable to consult medical professional before relying on the content. Neither the Author nor Star Health and Allied Insurance Co. Ltd accepts any responsibility for any potential risk to any visitor/reader.

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