What is oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth and teeth clean to prevent dental problems, most commonly, dental cavities, gingivitis, and bad breath.
Cleaning of teeth
Teeth cleaning is the removal of dental plaque and tartar from teeth to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Severe gum disease causes at least one-third of adult tooth loss.
Over 80% of cavities occur inside pits and fissures on chewing surfaces where brushing cannot reach food left trapped after every meal or snack, and saliva or fluoride have no access to neutralise acid. Unlike easy-to-reach surfaces, where fewer cavities occur.
Generally, dentists recommend that teeth be cleaned professionally at least twice per year. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling, tooth polishing, and, if tartar has accumulated, a dentist can remove the build up this is usually followed by a fluoride treatment.
Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene is essential for preventing tartar build-up which causes the problems mentioned above. This is done through careful, frequent brushing with a toothbrush, combined with the use of dental floss to prevent accumulation of plaque on the teeth.
The use of dental floss is an important element of oral hygiene, since it removes plaque and decaying food remaining stuck between the teeth. This food decay and plaque cause irritation to the gums, allowing the gum tissue to bleed more easily.
Flossing for a proper interdental cleaning is recommended at least once per day, preferably before brushing so fluoride toothpaste has better access between teeth to help remineralise teeth, prevent receding gums, gum disease, and cavities on the surfaces between the teeth.
It is recommended to use enough floss to enable easy use, usually ten or more inches with three to four inches of taut floss to put between teeth. Floss is then wrapped around the middle finger and/or index finger and supported with the thumb on each hand. It is then held tightly to make taut, and then gently moved up and down between each tooth. It is important to floss under visible areas by curving the floss around each tooth instead of moving up and down on gums, which are much more sensitive than teeth. However, bleeding gums are normal upon first usage of floss, and will harden with use. One should use an unused section of the floss when moving around different teeth. Removing floss from between teeth requires using the same back-and-forth motion as flossing, but gently bringing the floss up and out of gaps between teeth.
Cleaning the tongue as part of daily oral hygiene is essential, since it removes the white/yellow bad-breath-generating coating of bacteria, decaying food particles, fungi, and dead cells from the tongue.