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Oral Hygiene Advice
For All Ages
Oral hygiene refers to
brushing and flossing
between the teeth in
cleaning by a dentist.
Importance of oral hygiene to a person’s overall health
Oral hygiene is necessary not only to fight tooth decay and bad breath but more importantly for a
person‟s overall health. Poor oral hygiene provides a friendly environment for harmful bacteria to
multiply. From the mouth, harmful bacteria can spread through the blood stream to different parts of
the body. So, in addition to dental problems, you are in danger of developing other diseases.
Maintaining oral hygiene between dental visits every six months is very important for dental health.
Following are some pieces of advice on proper oral hygiene at home for all ages - infants to adults.
Oral Hygiene Advice for Infants
Oral hygiene must start soon after
birth. Clean the baby's gums
(upper and lower) using a clean,
damp cloth at least two times
daily- after the first and the last
Once a tooth has erupted, brush it
with the appropriate toothbrush
and rinse with water. Ask your dentist but toothpaste is usually not recommended until the
child is two years old. There are special children‟s toothpaste available, which have lower
grades of fluoride. Ideally start flossing at least once daily when two baby teeth have erupted
side by side.
The first dental visit should be ideally before the child turns one-year old and every six to
twelve months thereafter.
You should encourage kids try and brush their teeth themselves (with your assistance) as
early as possible. But you should teach kids how to „properly‟ brush and floss when they are 6
years old or as soon as they have the required coordination skills. However, they should be
supervised until you are sure they can do them right.
Ask your dentist to help you determine if your child is ready to use mouthwash. Ask also for
the most suitable and safest mouthwash for children. Supervise your child‟s initial use of
mouthwash until you are confident of his or her capability to do it right.
Oral Hygiene Advice for Teens to Adults
Proper and regular brushing is a must to remove plaque and prevent its build up. Plaque leads to gum
disease and tooth decay.
How often should you brush your
teeth? Dentists advise brushing
at least two times daily and after
meals. The foods we eat and
drink usually contain sugars and
carbohydrates that combine with
the existing bacteria in your
mouth to produce acids. Acid
attacks your teeth which could
lead to tooth decay. Cleaning
your teeth after eating reduces
the possibility of dental cavities.
Make sure to clean your tongue by brushing or scraping to remove bacteria- one of the causes of bad
breath. Brushing or scraping with a tongue scraper also removes whatever odor-causing substances
have been deposited on your tongue.
Ask your dentist for the type of toothbrush and toothpaste in your locality that will benefit you most.
Seniors or those with mobility issues may consider using an electric toothbrush to make sure they
comply with the recommended brush movement and brushing time.
Interdental cleaning is the process of cleaning
between teeth. Interdental cleaning is important
because a toothbrush can clean only the front
and back surfaces but it can‟t brush between
the teeth. Some food particles are trapped
between teeth and can‟t be removed by
brushing. The common tools for interdental
cleaning are interdental brushes and floss.
Learn how to floss properly and do it at least
once daily. To clean between teeth, hold the
ends with each hand and rub it up and down the
sides of each tooth. Let it go under the gum line
to remove any hidden plaque. For best results
use a fresh cut of floss for every location so you
don‟t transfer bacteria or food particles to
another interdental location.
Floss before brushing and rinse
with a mouthwash.
Interdental brushes are available in various
sizes. If you don‟t know how to choose the best
type for you, ask your hygienist or dentist for
Toothbrush bristles wear over time. They become frayed or are flattened, reducing their effectiveness
in scrubbing your teeth clean. To keep on using a “good” toothbrush, get a new manual toothbrush
after using it for three to four months. If you are using an electric toothbrush, refer to the
manufacturer‟s advice. The worn out bristles of your old toothbrush may also damage your gums.
Antibacterial mouthwashes can help remove bacteria that cause the formation of dental plaque. Use
mouthwash to prevent gingivitis which leads to gum disease. Fluoride in mouthwash also helps in
strengthening teeth and preventing tooth decay.
How to Clean Dentures
decay but they should
also be kept clean to
maintain oral hygiene.
mouth and cause bad
breath and other oral
natural teeth, use a
to clean your dentures. The general denture cleaning procedure is: brush, soak in a bowl of water and
Brush your dentures in the same manner you brush natural teeth. Make sure to clean all surfaces.
Any scales or stains build up should be cleaned by the appropriate dental practitioner.
How to clean implants
Ask your dentist or dental hygienist for the proper way to clean your implants. Proper cleaning is
important to avoid possible infection and gum disease.
What will happen if you don't observe proper oral hygiene as recommended? Bad breath could be the
least of your problems. Cavities and toothache are the most likely consequences of having poor oral
hygiene. Think also of more serious illnesses that could develop from the harmful bacteria that enter
your body through your mouth.
Proper oral hygiene does require time and effort but the alternative of bad teeth, tooth ache or loss
and/or expensive dental bills typically far outweigh this! Once you get used to a daily oral hygiene
routine, you‟ll find it easy. You‟ll feel confident that you‟re not offending other people with your bad
breath and realize that it‟s easier to hold your smile because you‟re not embarrassed about your
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