How to maintain oral hygiene

For a healthy and shiny smile, your mouth needs care and attention and you should follow a good, daily, oral hygiene routine to maintain that. Your mouth is the gateway to your overall health and you cannot keep putting different food and drink into your body through your mouth and ignore the cleaning part. If you do, you are inviting potential unnecessary problems.

Prevention is better than cure and who better than a dentist to advise on what to do each day to keep your healthy smile intact.

We spoke with a number of dentists to bring you the basics of good oral hygiene along with the food which is good and bad for your mouth. They have also busted some of the popular myths about oral care, which you should forget about right away.

What is good oral hygiene?

Good oral hygiene means there are no symptoms of pain and discomfort, and your mouth is completely disease and plaque bacteria free and you have healthy gums.

Felicia Bjurfjall, Dental Hygienist at Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic said, “Good oral hygiene gives you healthy gums that are pink and firm to the touch, not red or not swollen and tender. Gums shouldn’t bleed either, because that means that the brushing is insufficient. There should be no bad breath and no plaque bacteria in your mouth either.”

What are the basic steps to maintain oral hygiene?

Brush your mouth
Oral hygiene is not only about white and bright teeth; but also clean and healthy  gums, tongue, and mouth. It is advisable to brush twice a day, first thing in the morning and last thing at night. The morning routine will remove plaque and bacteria accumulated over night. Brushing your teeth before you go to bed prevents accumulation of plaque, tooth decay and gum disease.

Dr. Dushan Motwani, General Dentist and Implantologist at Allied Medical Centre said, “Brushing twice a day with either an electric toothbrush or manual soft brush and a fluoridated tooth paste for at least 3 minutes a time. One must change a toothbrush immediately after an illness or after 3 months of continuous use and rinse mouth with water thoroughly after every meal”

Floss every day
Brushing alone is not enough and you cannot ignore those tight spaces between the teeth, the main culprits behind growing cavities. These are the places where food residuals find their home leading to dental issues. It is also important that you floss before you brush to remove anything hiding in these parts of the mouth that your brush can't reach. Dr. Dushan Motwani of Allied Medical Centre suggests to rinse your mouth with mouthwash once a day, after flossing.

Visit the dentist
Make a habit to visit your dentist for a regular dental check-up and teeth cleaning. There are some dental problems that you may not be able to identify, and a regular dental check-up could uncover these and save you from possible long painful dental treatments in the future. Make a note in your diary for each check-up to maintain your long running oral hygiene. Dr. Lalit Mohan Uchil, Specialist Internal Medicine at Emirates Speciality Hospital said, “Visit your dentist for a dental exam and cleaning at least every 6 months, or as recommended. You should always ask your doctors about the preventive measures.”

Check the health of your gums
You need to keep a constant eye on the health of your gums as they can cause unbearable pain if they are not in the best condition. “Check your gums to make sure they’re pink and that the gum line hugs teeth tightly. Your gums should not bleed when you brush”, said Dr. Lalit Mohan Uchil of Emirates Speciality Hospital.

What does poor hygiene cause?

Poor oral hygiene can cause a host of things including toothache, sensitive teeth, sore and bleeding gums, mouth sores, dental plaque, bad breath or halitosis and cavities.

Felicia Bjurfjall of Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic said, “Poor dental hygiene can lead to serious health problems. Most people already know that not brushing your teeth daily can lead to bad breath, gum disease and tooth decay. But recent studies find that poor dental hygiene can also have unexpected health consequences, such as increased risks for Alzheimer's disease, stroke and heart disease.”

What are the good and bad foods for oral hygiene?

Good food
Cheese, chicken, nuts and milk, these foods are considered good food as they provide calcium and phosphorus to keep teeth strong. Alternatively, vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are also a source of high calcium. Crunchy fruits (for example, apples and pears) and vegetables are also mouth friendly. The extra water content in these fruit neutralises their sugar content.

Dr. Lalit Mohan Uchil of Emirates Speciality Hospital said, “Green and black teas containing polyphenols kill bacteria which are responsible for build-up of plaque. Sugarless chewing gum helps in producing saliva and clearing food debris.”

Dr. Dushan Motwani of Allied Medical Centre said, “Onions, crunchy leafy greens, carrot sticks celery, apples, dairy, cheese, peppers and citrus fruits, berries, kiwis pears, wholegrains, shitake mushrooms, raisins, yogurt, almonds and finally green tea are good food for oral hygiene.”

Bad food
Any food with a large sugar content such as cookies, cakes, pies, breads, muffins, potato chips is harmful for your teeth. These foods stick to your teeth and help bacteria grow in your mouth. Bacteria converts sugar and carbohydrates into acids which attack the enamel in teeth, starting the process of decay. Limit your consumption of sugar-containing drinks, including soft and fizzy drinks, as well as coffee and tea with added sugar.

Felicia Bjurfjall of Dr. Michael’s Dental Clinic said, “Dried fruits and chewy candies are bad as they are sticky and get stuck in your teeth which can lead to decay. Carbonated drinks are very acidic and usually contains high levels of sugar which are bad for your teeth. Citrus fruits but also pineapples for example, as they are too acidic and can damage the tooth enamel. Lemon water and vinegars are also too acidic and can damage teeth.”

Some simple steps and a few preventive measures can give you strong teeth and healthy gums, and you may never need to see a dentist other than for the regular check-ups again.

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