Written by: WellCome Care Editorial Team
In a nutshell
- Poor oral hygiene has been linked with higher rates of gingival infections and tooth decay
- There isn’t any one particular practice that can ensure optimal oral health, it is a multidisciplinary approach
- The health of the gums, teeth, hard and soft palates, tongue, the jaw bones, joints, and all supporting soft tissues of the mucosa constitute overall of the mouth
The mouth has different hard and soft structures that work together to give us the ability to eat, bite, chew, swallow, smile, speak and laugh. All of these structures demand care and attention.
Lack of care and inadequate/improper oral hygiene practices can give rise to many harmful conditions affecting the teeth, the soft tissues, and the jaw bone.
Gingivitis is one of the most common of all gum-related infections prevalent in most parts of the world. Lack of oral hygiene is one of its leading causes, and it is characterized by inflammation of the gums.
If left untreated, Gingivitis can progress into high-severity, aggressive infection that can affect all structures of the oral cavity. This condition is known as Periodontitis, and it is characterized by:
- Swelling of the gums
- Pain and bleeding
- Foul mouth odor
- Pocket formation between the gums and the teeth
- Gingival recession and exposure of the root
- Mobility of the teeth, and eventual loosening of the teeth from the sockets
With good oral hygiene and better dietary choices, most types of gingival infections and tooth decay can be avoided.
According to a study conducted on a group of school-going children, the DMFT (Decayed, Missing, Filled Teeth) index for kids who were maintaining dental hygiene at home on daily basis was much less than that of kids who were not.
Apart from brushing and flossing at home daily, it is important to get teeth professionally cleaned at the dentist’s office at least twice a year, especially for people with special needs and disabilities.
Dentists, hygienists and teachers should ideally take an active part in educating patients and students about the importance of good oral health, and teaching them correct techniques and methods for optimal cleaning.
RECOMMENDED DAILY TREATMENT REGIMEN
- Brush everyday using a fluoride toothpaste and correct techniques after every meal and especially before bedtime
- Floss regularly to loosen any piece or food that may have lodged itself between the teeth
- Use a tongue scraper or toothbrush to clean the tongue
- Avoid sticky, crumbly, and sugary snacks between meals
- Remove and clean any oral prostheses you may have daily
- Analyze your added sugar intake and try to cut it down by incorporating healthier, natural food in your diet. Strive to receive less than 5% of your daily calorie intake from sugar.
- Reduce/eliminate smoking/tobacco products from your daily routine
- If you have braces, make sure you get a special orthodontic tooth brush to effectively clean from between and around the brackets/wires
STRENGTH OF EVIDENCE: A
Individuals who follow a set oral hygiene maintenance routine at home on daily basis are less likely to develop dental caries and gum disease.
Daily cleaning does not allow plaque to accumulate on, behind or around the teeth thus essentially nipping in the bud. Routinely professional evaluation of the teeth also reduces the chances of caries spread in the mouth.
Keeping your oral health in check at home is essential to ensure proper functioning of the mouth.
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- Cochrane Library: Oral Hygiene
- Observational Study - Oral Hygiene in Children
- Systematic review of oral hygiene and periodontitis
- NHS - Oral Hygiene
- BMC Oral Health - Establishing oral health behaviors