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How To Improve Oral Hygiene

By Jahnavia Doolam

May 22, 2020

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A beautiful smile with shiny white teeth and  healthy pink gum  is desired by many but in order to achieve that, there are certain things that must be done, proper protocols must be followed in order to get there.


First of all, brushing the teeth is essential. Our Dentists, Dental Hygienists and other dental health professionals  advise us to brush our teeth at least two to three times daily. The main key is to ensure that the  right toothbrush is selected and that the teeth are being brushed properly.


Toothbrushes with soft bristles are recommended, we are not trying to bruise our gums now are we?  Most Dentists or Hygienists recommend the diamond head toothbrush with a full head of multilevel bristles for adequate brushing and cleaning of the molars especially the wisdom teeth. 


The handle of the toothbrush should be firm but comfortable. The handle of the toothbrush can be modified to suit the needs of others with compromised manual dexterity.  


Let’s not forget to replace our toothbrushes every three to four months. 

After brushing the teeth with the toothbrush it is recommended that the toothbrush  is  rinsed very well in order to remove all the toothpaste residue or debris. Shaking the toothbrush helps  to remove excess water.


The toothbrush should be stored in an  upright position in a cup or toothbrush holder away from other toothbrushes, away from the sink and at least three feet away from the toilet in an environment that allows the bristles to dry completely between uses.


A tongue cleaner should be considered to keep the tongue clean to remove the build up of  debris, bacteria, and dead cells  on the tongue. Additionally the aim of tongue cleaning is to remove  substances like volatile sulfur compounds that cause bad odor.


Fluoride is natural occurring  mineral found in plants, water, rocks, air and soil that strengthens teeth and prevents tooth decay by restricting the progression of enamel demineralization  and increasing the rate of remineralization thus rebuilding enamel or repairing early stages of tooth decay. 


Therefore using toothpastes containing fluoride  has its advantages. Also let’s not forget to use a mouthwash containing little or no alcohol  helps to minimize the population of harmful bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease. 


Flossing at least once a day is necessary to remove food debris and plaque from beneath the gum in areas where the toothbrush or mouthwash has no access. If food debris remains beneath the gum for too long, it becomes food for the bacteria resulting in bacterial growth which contributes  to the progression of gum disease also known as gingivitis in early stages or periodontitis in advanced cases.


The bacteria release toxins while the body´s natural immune response system tries to fight the bacteria which also causes a release of toxins that breakdown the gum tissue. The bacteria can also turn the food debris with carbohydrates into acid.


The bacteria in combination with  food debris, saliva and acid forms plaque that  attaches to the enamel. The acid in the plaque breaks down the enamel  forming cavities also known as dental caries.


Oral hygiene/dental hygiene can be improved  by avoiding acidic drinks and  limiting the consumption of  food with strong colors such as curry , turmeric, dark brown stews, green tea and coffee which can stain the teeth.


Even after brushing or flossing these stains remain on the teeth for a long period of time causing the teeth to look unclean. The use of straws when drinking acidic beverages or green juices help to limit the amount of liquid that comes in contact with the teeth and help to reduce the occurrence of  teeth sensitivity and staining


Brushing the teeth or rinsing the mouth with fresh water after drinking coffee or eating highly pigmented food also help to reduce the formation of stains on the teeth. There are some medicated mouthwashes that contain chlorhexidine which may stain the teeth. Follow instructions from the dental health professional in terms of usage.


It is essential to  try to control the factors that contribute to Halitosis (malodor of the breath) by consulting with the Dentist or Hygienist to find out the possible cause and obtaining treatment. Professional dental cleaning is usually recommended to be done every six months or every three months depending on the treatment plan formulated by the dental health professional.


Drinking plenty of water and consuming more fruits and vegetables instead of just snacking on food high in cholesterol, salt and sugar helps to improve and maintain good oral hygiene. Sugar free gum is also an option for individuals who like to chew gum. We should also be aware of pungent foods for example onions and garlic. 


The effects of dry mouth on oral health include the formation of cavities  and gum disease. For individuals with dry mouth or xerostomia there are products like Act dry mouth Lozenges, 3M ESPE Theramints, Biotene dry mouth spray and XyliMelts by Oracoat formulated for the relief of dry mouth. 


Individuals who smoke are at an increased risk for developing tartar,  stains on the teeth, gum disease, aggravation of  xerostomia, malodor of the breath and oral cancer. Limiting the habit of smoking and avoiding the use of tobacco helps to maintain healthy teeth and gum. 


In order  to improve oral hygiene  one must accept that a change in behavior towards oral health is necessary. It takes teamwork and cooperation between individuals and the Dental Hygienist, Dentist or Dental Nurse. Do not wait until you have a toothache before you visit the Dentist. You should at least go and get a check up then start doing some routine maintenance or repairs.

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