What is Oral Hygiene?

Practicing good oral hygiene is all about making sure your mouth, teeth and gums are clean and healthy.

Regular brushing and flossing will help to prevent dental problems such as dental cavities and gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis). These problems are mostly caused by plaque, a sticky film that constantly coats your teeth, which needs to be removed daily by brushing and flossing. If left, it can build up and inflame your gums and eventually affect the bone that supports your teeth. This can cause teeth to become loose or require extracting by your dentist.

Other things you can do to improve your oral health include eating a healthy diet (limiting food and drink high in sugar), stopping smoking and having regular dental checkups.

Time Taken

2 minutes morning and night

Consider your oral health care as part of your daily beauty regime!

Stages of Gum Disease:

Dental plaque and tartar

Plaque starts to accumulate on the surface of your teeth. It forms when bacteria combines with food and saliva. Sugary foods are one of the main causes of plaque. 

What to look for

  • Rough feeling on your teeth, especially after eating sugary foods
  • Plaque is white in appearance
  • Tartar is hardened plaque and is difficult to remove by brushing and generally requires a trip to the hygienist to remove with specialist instruments

How to prevent it

  • You can remove plaque with regular brushing
  • Floss regularly
  • Choose healthy snacks such as cheese, nuts or fruit
  • Chew sugar free gum in between meals, it increases the amount of saliva – the mouth’s natural defence against the acidic build of bacteria

Gingivitis

This is the early phase of gum disease; it is inflammation of the gums caused by plaque build-up at the gum line. If daily brushing and flossing do not remove plaque, certain types of bacteria with-in plaque produce toxins (poisons) that can inflame the gum tissue, causing gingivitis. At this early stage in gum disease, damage can be reversed.

What to look for

  • Gums that look red, puffy or swollen
  • Gums that bleed during brushing or flossing
  • Persistent bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth

How to prevent it

  • Continue regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste twice a day. Ask your hygienist to assess how you brush to ensure you are being effective
  • Floss daily and use a mouthwash
  • Assess your diet and how often you snack, particularly on foods that contain sugar

Periodontitis

If untreated gingivitis can become progressively worse and cause periodontitis to develop. At this stage, the supporting bone and fibres that hold your teeth in place are irreversibly damaged.

What to look for

  • Teeth that look longer because your gums have receded
  • Gums that have separated, or pulled away, from the necks of your teeth, creating a pocket
  • Changes in the way your teeth fit together when you bite
  • Pus coming from between your teeth and gums

How to prevent it

  • Regular dental check-ups with your dentist or hygienist
  • Professional gum treatment may be needed
  • Improved daily home care can arrest any further damage and help prevent it from getting any worse
  • Removal of teeth that are severely affected