1. What is Oral Hygiene and Plaque? TOP
- Oral hygiene refers to keeping the mouth, and particularly the teeth, clean and free of dental plaque.
- "Daily oral hygiene practices such as brushing and flossing can prevent both caries and gingivitis."
- The above should be combined with a daily flouride mouthwash.
- You are also advised to see your dentist twice a year for professional cleaning.
2. Why is oral hygiene important? TOP
- The practise of oral hygiene is important because it prevents the build up of dental plaque. Plaque causes the two most common diseases found in the mouth, dental decay andgum disease.
- The longer dental plaque is permitted to stick to he teeth, the greater is the risk of dental disease.
- To prevent and treat these diseases, dental plaque must be removed every day, by thorough brushing and flossing.
3. What are the different methods for brushing teeth? TOP
- We recommend two methods for brushing teeth. They both use the same angled position of the brush:
Place the brush at a 45-degree angle towards the junction of the tooth and the gum. This is the position for brushing the sides of the teeth.
- One suggested method is to brush gently in a circular movement.
- Another technique is known as the gentle scrub method.
- The brush is moved backwards and forwards horizontally in very short strokes.
- Each stroke is no more than the width of one tooth.
- Brush all the tooth surfaces of all the teeth.
- Brush behind the front teeth with an up and down movement using the end of the brush.
- Brushing should be unhurried and thorough.
- Partial dentures should be removed for the efficient brushing of the remaining teeth.
4. Why is it important to use dental floss? TOP
- Dental floss is the best way to clean the tooth surfaces between the teeth.
- Different types of floss are available, such as regular floss, dental tape and superfloss.
- Floss is also available on a plastic holder, in the shape of a bow. It forms "the string of the bow" and it makes flossing very manageable.
- Here are a few tips for flossing as demonstrated below:
- Use a 12-15inch (30-40cm.) length of floss.
- Wrap the floss around your middle fingers.
- Hold the floss between the thumb and forefinger of each hand.
- Leave about 2 inches (5cm) of floss between the hands.
- The floss must be taut when it is used.
- Gently guide the floss across the contact point between the teeth.
- When the floss is in position between the teeth, curve it tightly against one tooth surface and rub it up and down a few times.
- Each stroke should be from just under the gum to the contact point between the teeth.
- Repeat this for each tooth surface between all the teeth.
- The floss holders shown above are easy to use, if you have difficulty using the conventional floss.
- Be careful not to cut your gums with the floss.
- A sharp downward thrust of the floss will damage the gum and make it bleed.
- Your dentist will be happy to show you how to floss, and choose which floss is best for you.
5. What other helpful aids are there to improve oral hygiene? TOP
There are many dental hygiene products available. We describe and show them below:
- Interdental (interproximal) brushes
- End or single tuft toothbrushes
- Interdental picks or sticks
- Interdental rubber tip stimulators
- Pulsating water or medicament spraying devices
6. What kind of toothbrush should I use? TOP
- Here are the characteristics of a good toothbrush:
- The toothbrush should have a head that is small enough and correctly angled to reach all the teeth.
- A toothbrush should be multi-tufted, and have a medium/soft texture.
- Hard bristles can damage teeth and gums, and are not recommended.
- The bristles should be made of nylon, and their ends need to be rounded.
- Bristles made from synthetic rather than natural materials, are preferable for hygienic reasons. Natural bristles may be porous and likely to absorb bacteria.
- Electric and ultrasonic toothbrushing methods are very effective for plaque control. Electric toothbrushes are becoming popular.
Consult your dentist and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
7. What kind of toothpaste and mouthwash should I be using? TOP
- A large variety of toothpastes and mouthwashes are available to choose from. The inclusion of fluoride is most important:
- Most modern toothpastes contain flouride to prevent decay, and are recommended.
- Toothpastes and mouthwashes that contain fluoride claim to strengthen teeth and reduce decay by up to 40%.
- Fluoride is also alleged to reduce the amount of acid produced by bacteria in the mouth.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold can be relieved by toothpastes containing de-sensitising agents.
- Whitening toothpastes are now becoming popular for teeth that have darkened in colour.
- All toothpastes and mouthwashes have breath freshening properties.
- There are many toothpastes to choose from. Some of the ingredients may differ, but most appear to work well.
- Rinsing daily with a fluoride mouthwash will increase the beneficial effect of a fluoride toothpaste on teeth.
- Other over the counter mouthwashes, containing different chemicals, are also available. They serve many purposes.
- Ask your dentist which toothpaste and mouthwash is recommended.