A Guide to Dental Hygiene

Dental hygiene is the name given to the regular maintenance of your teeth and gums, in order to prevent dental problems. Basically, it means a systematic approach to caring for your teeth and gums and is something that involves both you and your dentist.

Ideally, this routine should be carried out on a daily basis to prevent tooth decay and gum disease. This can take the form of brushing the teeth twice a day, and flossing, as well as dental cleanings. A dental cleaning is undertaken by your dentist or dental hygienist and is more commonly known as a ‘scale and polish’.

Your dentist will advise you on what preventative measures to take, but they will include using a suitable toothbrush, flossing to remove any food debris and rinsing the mouth with an antiseptic mouthwash.

As an extra measure, coating the teeth with fluoride or using fluoride based toothpaste can help to strengthen and protect them. You will notice that the toothpastes available at your supermarket or chemist contain fluoride which is proven to protect against tooth decay and disease.

There are several ways of ensuring that your teeth and gums stay healthy. These include brushing, flossing, the application of fluoride and mouthwashes. Another factor is following a healthy diet which is low in sugar yet high in fibre.

Keeping your teeth clean and therefore healthy is important but how many of us follow a dental hygiene routine? How many of us actually bother to brush our teeth twice a day and floss as well? We know that we should see the dentist every 6 months for a check up but in reality, we don’t always do so.

There may be variety of reasons for this. Fear of the dentist, treatment costs or feeling like your life is too busy to bother with this are all contributory factors.

However, if you don’t follow a dental hygiene routine or are half-hearted about it then the consequences can be much worse. Tooth decay, dental cavities, periodontal gum disease and halitosis (bad breath) are just some of the problems that can arise.

So, the answer is to take care of your teeth and gums on a regular basis. And, if possible, start this from an early age. If you have children then encourage them to brush their teeth as soon as they are able. If they are very young – as in infants then you can do this for them by using a soft cloth to clean their teeth.

If you can get into the habit of reducing the amount of sugar you consume or opt for low sugar alternatives; follow a dental hygiene plan and twice yearly visits to your dentist then this will ensure that you maintain a healthy set of teeth and gums.

What type of toothbrush should I use? How do I get rid of bad breath? Does flossing actually work? Is it worth using a mouthwash? These are just some of the many questions asked by patients about dental hygiene.

What is ‘dental hygiene?’

This is the practice of keeping the teeth and gums clean and healthy. Also known as preventative oral health, it requires the patient to follow a daily routine which includes brushing and flossing the teeth. Other elements include using an antiseptic mouthwash, avoiding sugary drinks and food, and regular visits to the dentist.

These visits should be undertaken every 6 months and will include an examination, professional cleaning, diagnostic x-rays and treatment. Treatment can include fillings, crowns or bridgework.

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