If you are neglecting your oral hygiene better think again. Oral health is not just about your mouth, tongue, teeth, and gums. If the eyes are the window to the soul then the oral cavity is the window to the body’s overall health. So it is important to take care of your oral health the best way you can.
This is the first article of our complete guide to oral hygiene. We’ll go through each step of the oral hygiene routine, explaining all the tools, the what, why, and how you can take care of your oral cavity for a bright, natural, and healthy smile. Starting with general overall oral hygiene, we’ll make deep dives into brushing, flossing, mouthwash, and cleaning your tongue. So, stick around and nerd out with us until the end to find out.
For now, let’s get started with Oral Hygiene: 101.
What is oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene is the practice of taking care of your oral cavity and its content which are teeth, gums, and tongue. There are different cleaning and maintenance methods for each part of your mouth. This includes regular brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth, as well as visiting the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
Why is oral hygiene important?
Over the years many studies have been done to focus on the importance of oral hygiene and how it affects your overall health. So why is it so important? Here’s why:
It helps prevent cavities and tooth decay
It protects against gum disease
It maintains fresh breath
It protects overall health
Good oral hygiene ensures not only the health of your oral cavity which includes your teeth, tongue, and gums but also is closely connected to your overall health as well. There have been studies that show there is a direct connection between oral diseases and cardiovascular disease. Therefore, it is important to make oral hygiene a daily habit.
How to have good oral hygiene?
Of course, we have oral hygiene but what is good oral hygiene? Good oral hygiene is when you follow the necessary rules and steps in order to have healthy teeth, keep your gums healthy, and the rest of your mouth clean as well. So how do you do that? Good oral hygiene care consists of:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing daily
- Cleaning your tongue
- Using an antiseptic mouthwash to kill bacteria and freshen your breath.
- Dental visits every six months
Obviously, these are the basics of good oral hygiene. But sometimes it could be different. This specifically depends on your dental health which is determined by your dentist. That is why dentists insist on dental visits. So all this said brings us to the next important question.
How to know if you have good oral hygiene?
Easy! By doing this simple test that we have prepared for you! There are 9 questions that are related to oral health topics. When you are done answering the questions, check your results to better understand and improve your oral health care. Here’s a test to find out how to know if you have good oral hygiene!
Do I have good oral hygiene? Test
How to take care of your oral hygiene?
Taking care of your oral hygiene plays an important part in your dental health. So how should you do it? First, let’s start with your equipment.
- Toothbrush: Using a suitable toothbrush plays an important role in taking care of your teeth. Whether you are using electric toothbrushes or manual toothbrushes, make sure they have soft bristles. Hard bristles can be rough on your gums and cause your tooth enamel to wear away. Also using toothbrushes with hard bristles can lead to gum recession.
- Toothpaste: The inseparable friend of a toothbrush! Nowadays most toothpaste already comes with fluoride in them, which is beneficial to have a healthy smile. Fluoride helps your tooth enamel to be strong and lowers the risk of tooth decay.
- Dental floss: The most neglected part of taking care of your teeth. Using dental floss helps remove dental plaque and pieces of food from between your teeth. With flossing the risk of tooth decay lowers and it will keep your gums strong.
- Mouthwash: We know mouthwash is unnecessary, but in some cases, it could be useful to take care of your teeth. It could also add an extra layer of protection to your daily oral hygiene care. Using mouthwash after eating can help balance the pH of your mouth, therefore, saving your teeth from dental cavities.
- Food and drinks: The food you eat, and the beverages you drink directly affect your teeth. If what you consume is acidic or sugary it can lead to dental cavities. Dental professionals recommend eating fresh and crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, cucumbers, and celery. Not only eating healthy is vital for your oral care but it helps reduce plaque buildup as well.
- Oral habits: Anything other than eating and drinking that you do with your mouth such as nail biting, tongue thrusting, teeth grinding (bruxism), object biting, and digit sucking. All of these oral behaviors can affect your teeth and not in a good way. In the long run, these oral habits can cause periodontal diseases and malocclusion. So, it is in your best interest to kick these habits.
How to improve oral hygiene?
If you are thinking about improving your oral hygiene, you have come to the right place. Oral hygiene care should not be complicated. In this part of the article, we will go through some easy steps you can take to improve your oral hygiene regimens. We promise not to make it more difficult for you.
So without further ado, here are some oral hygiene measures to take to help you improve your daily dental care.
- Daily brushing: We know we are starting to sound like a broken record, but it is the first and foremost important thing to do! Regular brushing twice a day helps with removing food particles and plaque from your teeth. The least is it helps refresh your breath as well. Proper brushing means being gentle, yet thorough with cleaning every part of your teeth.
- Get into the flossing game: We know flossing might not be the most fun part of dental hygiene, but the impact it has is undeniable. Here is our tip for you if you find using regular dental floss too much. You can start using interdental brushes. Or if you are willing to spend a buck you can go for a water flosser. Both of these dental devices are effective in cleaning those tiny spaces between your teeth.
- Fluoride is the secret code: Most oral hygiene products already have fluoride in them but there are still some products that do not contain fluoride. So, make sure you are using the kinds that have fluoride in the formulation. You can add a fluoride mouth rinse to your routine. You can also get a fluoride treatment when you go for an office visit.
- Say no to tobacco: Whether you are a heavy or social smoker the effects of tobacco on teeth and health are not easy to ignore. Many studies have shown that there is a greater risk of developing oral cancer in smokers. You are at a higher risk for tooth decay and gum disease when you smoke.
- Shy away from sugar: Since sugar turns into acid by the harmful bacteria in your mouth, limiting your sugar intake can improve your oral hygiene a lot.
- Way of the water: Dry mouth can be a leading cause of plaque formation, bad breath, and tooth decay. Drinking more water helps with saliva making process. Try to keep yourself hydrated by drinking water rather than juice or sugary drinks.
How long does it take to improve oral hygiene?
If you have read the previous part, you can tell that it does not take that long to improve your oral hygiene. The important thing about dental health and oral healthcare is consistency. Keeping up with your dental hygiene routine and habits at least for 3 weeks will help you on this journey. Keep doing it until it becomes second nature to you.
How to maintain oral hygiene?
Oral hygiene can vary from person to person and that is normal. Since each person has their own routine and dental issues, it is not a one fits all situation exactly.
But nevertheless, we can give you a sort of blueprint and you can build your oral hygiene habit such as pairing your oral hygiene routine with some other habit you have in the morning or at night. You can tailor creative ideas for yourself by taking advantage of proven tips on maintaining oral hygiene from social media suggested by others.
Try some other methods, such as setting reminders on your phone or playing music, listening to a podcast, or finding a way to make brushing and flossing more enjoyable. And do not forget to celebrate your progress, give yourself a reward when you reach milestones in your oral hygiene routine!
– Priyamvara A, Dey AK, Bandyopadhyay D, Katikineni V, Zaghlol R, Basyal B, Barssoum K, Amarin R, Bhatt DL, Lavie CJ. Periodontal Inflammation and the Risk of Cardiovascular Disease. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2020 Jun 8;22(7):28. doi: 10.1007/s11883-020-00848-6. PMID: 32514778. Link
– Chang Y, Woo HG, Park J, Lee JS, Song TJ. Improved oral hygiene care is associated with decreased risk of occurrence for atrial fibrillation and heart failure: A nationwide population-based cohort study. Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2020 Nov;27(17):1835-1845. doi: 10.1177/2047487319886018. Epub 2019 Dec 1. PMID: 31786965. Link
– Johnson N. Tobacco use and oral cancer: a global perspective. J Dent Educ. 2001 Apr;65(4):328-39. PMID: 11336118. Link