Dental hygiene is defined by the Webster dictionary as “the maintenance of the teeth and gums in healthy condition, esp. by proper brushing, the removal of plaque, etc.” By removing plaque you are protecting yourself from gum disease, cavities, and much more! As anyone can see, the importance of great dental hygiene is imperative.
If you are not sure what steps need to be taken to have great dental hygiene, below are some easy steps and practices you can take.
Step 1 – Brushing
You have to have a good toothbrush. You do not want it to be too soft or too hard. And when you brush you need to be brushing for around two minutes. Brushing your teeth needs to happen at least twice per day.
Step 2 – Flossing/Mouthwash
Flossing should be done at least once per day. Cleaning between your teeth keeps plaque loose and not stuck in between your teeth. Mouthwash is a great way to clean out your mouth through the day. The easiest way to remember is to use mouthwash after every meal.
Step 3 – Routine Dental Appointments
You need to see your dentist twice per year. These routine dental appointments are for a dental hygienist to conduct a thorough dental cleaning as well as an opportunity for your dentist to perform a dental exam. Your dentist will discuss any issues you are having and review your options for any necessary dental treatment.
If you will follow these three simple steps you are on your way to great dental hygiene. Great dental hygiene reduces or eliminates tooth decay which leads to fewer cavities and reduces the incidence of gum disease!
Posted on behalf of Dr. Michael Mansouri, Lawrenceville Family Dental Care, P.C.
It is very common for dental patients to be concerned with whether or not they have bad breath. Even for the dental professional, bringing up the topic with a patient is a very sensitive subject. Several factors affect the way a person’s breath smells, and it’s something that everyone wants to be sure that they manage. Bad breath can affect your personal and professional life, not to mention make you feel uncomfortable around other people.
Certain foods can cause bad breath, such as garlic or foods that contain sugar, which feed oral bacteria. Avoiding these foods will prevent odor or excess bacteria that would contribute to bad breath.
Other causes of bad breath include infections in the head and neck. These include sinus infections, allergies, nasal drainage, gingivitis, periodontal disease, decay or abscess, prescription medications and reflux disease. Managing these conditions will help eliminate the bacteria in the mouth or esophagus that causes breath malodor.
The majority of bad breath bacteria are found on the surface of your tongue, so oral hygiene is the primary treatment when it comes to treating and preventing bad breath. It is estimated that up to 90% of the bacteria that cause bad breath reside on the surface of your tongue. You can gently clean your tongue with a soft bristled toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Tongue scrapers are easy to clean and will amaze you at the amount of bacteria that they remove. Be careful not to be too aggressive with tongue cleaners as you may damage the delicate papilla on your tongue.
Seeing your hygienist regularly for dental cleanings to remove accumulated tartar or plaque deposits also helps you to manage odorous oral bacteria. Avoid alcohol-containing mouth rinses as these may dry your mouth out further and alter the natural flora of your mouth.
Seeing your Registered Dental Hygienist for regular preventive care appointments, including routine dental cleaning and checkups, is part of a comprehensive oral health care plan. For most patients, routine dental cleanings are needed about every 6 months to remove tartar deposits above and just below the gumlines. It’s understandable for many people to neglect their preventive appointments due to moving, lapses in insurance coverage, but your dental hygienist will work to help get your dental health back on track starting with your first appointment.
Regular professional tartar removal is necessary because the bacteria that live in these deposits cause the detachment of gum tissue and bone loss around the teeth. When tartar is not removed, it leads to periodontal disease and tooth loss. In addition to dental cleanings, your hygienist will work closely with you to help identify problem areas and method to use to improve your oral health.
Gum disease doesn’t just affect your oral health, but it is directly associated with systemic disease conditions as well. Patients with untreated periodontal (gum) disease are also at an increased risk to have cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity and premature labor, just to name a few.
In addition to simply having the tartar removed from your teeth, hygienists are also licensed to perform oral cancer screenings, nutritional counseling, take x-rays, apply dental sealants, conduct periodontal needs evaluations, and screen for tooth decay or aging restorations.
Seeing your dentist regularly for routine preventive care appointments helps keep your teeth and gums healthy, allowing you to keep your smile healthy for a longer time. It also allows your dentist to identify problems or decay before becoming more invasive, saving tooth structure and the cost of advanced treatment needs if they were addressed later on when they begin to be symptomatic.
The millions of naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths form a sticky film called plaque that adheres to the surfaces of our teeth. Unless this layer of plaque is removed, it hardens and creates tartar (or calculus). Removing plaque before it hardens prevents the formation of tartar and also prevents the bacteria from damaging the teeth and causing cavities. Plaque is easily removed but tartar can only be removed with professional help by a dentist or dental hygienist.
The key to controlling tartar and preventing plaque formation is maintaining healthy habits. By following a few simple habits with consistency, you can avoid plaque build up and have healthier teeth and gums.
Regular brushing with a soft bristle brush is the first habit that will avoid plaque build up. Brush twice daily with a fluoride toothpaste to remove plaque from the surfaces of your teeth.
Flossing once a day will remove plaque from areas where your toothbrush can’t reach. Flossing removes plaque that forms between teeth and at the gumline. Be sure to floss gently to avoid irritating the gums.
Dental cleanings and checkups are important to remove tartar build up. Even those who practice good brushing and flossing habits will have some plaque build up that needs to be removed by a dentist or dental hygienist. Having your teeth cleaned once a year is the minimum and twice a year is even better.
In addition, adding crunchy, healthy foods to your diet can scrape off plaque between brushings. Raw carrots, celery, apples, and other crunchy fruits and vegetables can help keep your teeth free of plaque.
Finally, limit sweets and sugary drinks (especially soft drinks) to limit plaque formation. Bacteria feed on sugars and release acids that can damage your teeth.
Periodontal disease (commonly called gum disease) is an inflammation or infection in the gums caused by the naturally occurring bacteria in our mouths. Gum disease can range from a mild inflammation called gingivitis to serious infection called periodontitis. Gingivitis is easily treatable with a thorough dental cleaning and checkup by your dentist or dental hygienist, but left untreated it can progress to periodontitis and can result in severe damage or loss of the gums, jawbone, and other tissue and ultimately the loss of the patient’s teeth.
Anyone can develop periodontal disease, but people with certain risk factors are more likely to develop gum disease. The more risk factors a person has, the more likely the disease will develop.
Smoking is one of the most significant risk factors for gum disease. In addition, smoking has been shown to reduce the effectiveness of the treatment for gum disease. Hormonal changes in women have been linked to the increased risk of developing gingivitis which can lead to gum disease.
Genetics plays a part in the development of gum disease. For reasons that are not clearly understood, some people are more likely to develop gum disease than others. In addition, as we get older the risk of developing periodontal disease increases.
Stress reduces the body’s ability to fight infection and contributes to the development of gum disease. Similarly, other diseases that affect the immune system or medications that interfere with the immune system increase the risk of developing gum disease. These diseases include cancer, AIDS, herpes, and autoimmune diseases.
Finally, poor nutrition can impair the body’s ability to fight infections and is a risk factor for gum disease. If you have more than one or two of these risk factors, talk to your dentist about ways you can reduce the risk of developing periodontal disease.
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