What is oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene by definition is the practice of keeping one’s mouth clean, healthy and free of any diseases. One can keep their mouth healthy by using good dental products and regularly visiting a dentist. Good oral hygiene practice involves habit building and routine which one must practice daily. It is important to carry out oral hygiene practice daily in order to prevent any dental problems or bad breath.
Why is oral hygiene important?
Oral hygiene is important as it involves habits that prevent you from getting mouth diseases, gum diseases, cavities, bad breath etc. Oral hygiene is preventative care that is essential to keep your mouth healthy. Oral health is also linked to your overall health. The mouth is the first place to show symptoms of many illnesses including diabetes. Bacteria and germs in your mouth can pass into your body through the bloodstream and cause adverse effects hence it is important to maintain oral health and oral hygiene.
Research shows that those with periodontal diseases are at a greater risk of having cardiovascular diseases. Apart from diabetes and heart diseases, there are several other diseases that are caused by poor oral hygiene. By keeping their mouth and teeth clean one can prevent the risk of health complications.
What conditions are linked to oral health?
Oral health conditions are often times considered separate from chronic conditions but these are actually inter-related.
Your oral hygiene may contribute to various diseases including
1) Endocarditis - Infection of the inner lining of the heart chambers or valves. This typically happens when bacteria or germs from your mouth travel through bloodstream and attach to certain areas in your heart.
2) Pregnancy and birth complications - Periodontitis (infection of the gums) has been linked to premature birth and low body weight in newborns.
3) Pneumonia - Certain bacteria can be pulled into your lungs causing pneumonia and other respiratory diseases.
4) Diabetes - By reducing the body’s resistance diabetes may put your gums at risk. Gum diseases are more frequent and sever amongst those with diabetes.
5) HIV/AIDS - Painful mucosal lesions are common in those suffering from AIDD/HIV
6) Alzheimer’s disease - Oral health becomes worse as Alzheimer’s progresses.
Apart from these certain other disorders such as eating disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, certain cancers and dry mouth might be linked to oral health.
What are the signs of poor oral hygiene?
Some common signs of poor oral hygiene are
- Bad Breath
- Bleeding Gums
- Dry Mouth
- Tooth Decay
- Tooth Erosion
- Gum diseases
- Loose teeth
- Swelling of the jaw
- Mouth Sores
How can I improve my oral hygiene?
Good oral hygiene can protect your teeth and gums and keep your mouth healthy. For a beautiful smile, follow these oral hygiene instructions:
1) Switch to a soft bristled toothbrush
You most likely already know that you must replace your toothbrush with a new one after every three months but if you are using a toothbrush with hard bristles then it's time to replace it. Toothbrushes with hard bristles can do more harm than good. These may cause abrasion of the enamel and gums.
Use a soft-bristled toothbrush, brush in a 45 degree angle along the gums and rub in small, circular motion. Make sure you brush twice in a day to keep bacteria and plaque away.
2) Add mouthwash to your routine
If you are brushing and flossing twice then you may feel you are doing enough, but rinsing with an oral rinse or mouthwash can help you to get rid of unwanted bacteria and plaque more effectively. You must use a swish with a mouthwash for 30 seconds after brushing and flossing. A good alcohol free mouthwash can be a game changer to your oral hygiene and teeth hygiene routine.
3) Don’t linger after sipping sugary drinks
Its best to avoid sugary drinks but if you will be having sugary drinks such as soda, coffee or tea then its best to have it all at once rather than at different times throughout the day. When you constantly expose your mouth to sugar, the bacteria in your mouth uses it as food and produces lactic acid. The lactic acid dissolves the minerals in your teeth causing cavities. You can also use a straw whenever possible. Drinking using a straw helps in absorbing the drink directly and less exposure to teeth.
4) Eat teeth whitening foods
Its true that some food items help your teeth to stay white.Raw and fibrous foods such as apples, celery, pears, carrots, lettuce, cucumbers etc help to scrub tooth surfaces and remove plaque that is deposited on the teeth thus making teeth appear whiter.
5) Wash your toothbrush holder
Your toothbrush holder maybe holding lots of germs that may not be visible to you. These bacteria can enter your toothbrush and later your mouth. Hence, it is important to wash your toothbrush holder or the surface where you keep your toothbrush. Wash it with hot water and scrub with a good dishwashing liquid.
6) Give importance to your tongue
While it's important to clean your teeth and gums, you must not ignore the tongue. Tongue is where lots of bacteria gets deposited while you have food. It important to scrape your tongue and remove the plaque causing bacteria. A good tongue cleaner can help you with teh routine of tongue cleaning. Cleaning your tongue reduces the bacteria in your mouth and also removes bad breath.
7) Visit the Dentist regularly
While most of us visit a dentist only when we experience pain or something is wrong with our dental health, regular cleanings and X rays must be a regular part of our dental hygiene. Minor issues can be identified and treated before they become major. Visiting a dentist must be considered preventive care rather than treatment.
Which oral hygiene products should I use?
There are several good oral hygiene products available in the market. Choosing the ones for your specific needs is the key to buying the right teeth hygiene care products. Here are some products you must use for a good oral hygiene routine
1) Toothbrush - This one’s a no-brainer. A toothbrush is something we all use. But what’s important here is choosing the right toothbrush. From a basic one to an electric one, there are several toothbrushes now available in the market. It is recommended to use a toothbrush with soft bristles such as this one and an electric one as it reaches all parts of your mouth and cleans more effectively than a regular toothbrush.
2) Dental Flosser - Flossing is an essential tool for cleaning your teeth thoroughly. Certain food items may be stuck in your teeth which can only be removed by flossing. Flossing helps remove debris and food particles stuck in between teeth. Flossers are available of different kinds- waxed, unwaxed and water flossers. Waxed floss is good if you have tightly spaced teeth or braces. A water flosser is a recent introduction which helps clean effectively, removing plaque from your mouth. It also easier to use than a string floss which may be complicated for some to use.
3) Toothpaste - A toothpaste is an essential product which you must use daily. There are several toothpastes available in the market, each of which has its own benefits and uses. You must use one based on your needs. If you need whiter teeth or suffer from sensitivity then choose a toothpaste accordingly. Several toothpastes such as these contain natural ingredients, are vegan, cruelty free, help you stay away from bacteria causing germs and keep your teeth white.
4) Tongue Cleaner - A tongue cleaner is important. Your tongue also collects a lot of bacteria during the day, which may cause bad breath. A tongue scraper helps to clean the bacteria and keeps you away from bad breath. Tongue cleaners come in various different materials. You can choose from the ones of plastic, stainless steel and copper. Copper tongue cleaner are considered the best as these have anti-bacterial properties and can clean your tongue more effectively than a plastic one.
What are the advantages of good oral hygiene?
The advantages of a good oral hygiene are many such as
1) Healthier teeth and gums
2) Reduced chance of teeth decay
3) Reduced chances of cavities
4) Less expenditure on dental care. Preventative care is less expensive than emergency care.
5) Fresher breath
6) Better smile and whiter teeth
7) Better gum health
8) Lower risk of cancer
9) Lower risk of stroke, type 2 diabetes
10) Healthier pregnancy and stronger fertility.
Proper oral hygiene and teeth hygiene is the key to optimal oral care. Regular brushing, flossing and using of mouthwash and tongue cleaner are important to maintain and improve your oral health. Regular dental visits are also important to ensure regular check ups and regular oral cleanings. A good oral hygiene can do wonders to your oral hygiene and teeth hygiene and your body as well.