Oral hygiene means keeping your mouth clean at all times to avoid the development of oral and dental diseases like gingivitis and cavities. There are also some oral pathological conditions which good oral hygiene is necessary for healing and regenerating the oral tissues. Such conditions include periodontitis and oral cysts.
Cleaning of teeth
Teeth cleaning is all about the removal of plaque and tartar from the teeth. This is so as to prevent gingivitis, cavities and gum diseases. One third of tooth loss cases in adults are due to severe gum diseases.
The most common problem with teeth all over the world is tooth decay. Many cavities occur due to pits and fissures on chewing surfaces in which a toothbrush cannot reach. When you eat food, some pieces and particles remain stuck in these places and this brings about the development of cavities.
The decaying of teeth can be prevented by the use of dental sealants. These dental sealants are usually applied by dentists to the back teeth so as to prevent food from becoming trapped. An elastomer strip has been shown to be able to force the sealant much deeper into the opposing chewing surface. It can also force fluoride toothpaste into the chewing surface. This helps in revitalizing the minerals in teeth that are demineralized.
Early man used to clean his teeth using things like animal bones, twigs and bird feathers. Different cultures have different ways of cleaning their teeth. The Indians, for instance, use the twigs of the neem tree to make toothbrushes. The twig is chewed until the chewed end resembles the bristles of an ordinary toothbrush. This is then used as a toothbrush. In Islamic cultures, the siwak is said to have antiseptic properties and as such, it is widely used as a toothbrush. It is also common among some people to rub baking soda against the teeth.
The general recommendation by dentists is that the teeth should be professionally cleaned at least twice a year. Professional tooth cleaning involves such activities as tooth polishing, tooth scaling, debridement and fluoride treatment.
Tartar build up can also be prevented by the maintenance of good oral hygiene. This can be done by regularly brushing your teeth and flossing them at least once a day to avoid the build up of plaque.
Plaque is a yellow and sticky substance that form on teeth and gums. Food is usually converted into acid by the bacteria in plaque. This acid then demineralizes the teeth. This ends up in causing cavities. Brushing and flossing on a daily basis removes plaque and prevents the formation of tartar on teeth.
Plaque can also cause the development of gingivitis. In some severe situations, receding gums can develop and this causes the teeth that have cavities to be exposed together with the pus that is inside them. This can lead to the destruction of bones around the teeth, especially in adults. Tooth decay can be prevented by eating a balanced diet and reducing the number of snacks that you eat. Foods such as raw vegetables, cheese, plain yoghurt, and cheese have all been promoted by the Federation Dentaire International and the American Dental Association.
Using dental floss is an important part of oral hygiene. This is because it removes plaque and any decaying food that may be lodged between the teeth. When this food is not removed, it decays and causes an irritation on the gums, making them to bleed.
It is encouraged to floss your teeth at least once a day most probably before brushing your teeth so that fluoride toothpaste can access all parts of the teeth. This helps in remineralising teeth, preventing the gums from receding and preventing cavities from developing on the surface of teeth.
An interdental brush is a small brush that is used to clean teeth and between the wires of dental braces. It is usually disposable and can be supplied with a reusable angled plastic handle. The sizes of these brushes usually range from 1 to 7. A study has shown that the use of a toothbrush and an interdental brush removes plaque more effectively than using a toothbrush and dental floss.
A coat of bacteria that produces bad breath usually stays on the surface of the tongue. It is therefore essential to clean your tongue on a regular basis. Some of the bacteria that causes tooth decay and gum complications usually live on the surface of the tongue.
It is recommended that you massage your gums using the bristles of your toothbrush when brushing.
Oral irrigation is recommended by some experts in the dental field to help keep the teeth clean and the gums healthy.
Oral irrigators reach 3–4 mm under the gum line. Oral irrigators use a pressured, directed stream of water to disrupt plaque and bacteria.
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