Dental Hygiene Basics

We are passionate about promoting oral health, and increasing awareness of the connection between the oral cavity and the rest of the body (oral systemic link). By educating the general public we can promote optimal oral health and wellbeing.

 

Prevention is better than cure! All of us at some point have feared going to the dentist. We not only fear what the dentist may find, but also what it may cost to make it better. To stop your worries and anxieties, take the first step in maintaining your oral health. Have annual dental checks and visit your Dental Hygienist regularly to help you prevent oral disease, dental decay and maintain healthy gums.

Happy Smile

Brushing your mouth contains bacteria which live on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue. Some bacteria are healthy if present in the right amounts. Our mouth needs these ‘friendly’ bacteria to keep the balance. Other bacteria can be harmful and cause problems. Harmful bacteria can attach to each other and form plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria that coats the teeth, gums, tongue, crowns , implants and dental appliances (such as retainers and dentures). These bacteria feed on the sugars in the food we eat and drink, producing acids that can soften and destroy tooth enamel causing cavities. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily and visiting your Dental Hygienist regularly, can dramatically reduce plaque and tartar accumulation.

 

Plaque and tartar contributes to gum disease, bad breath, tooth decay and cavities. Tooth brushing DO’S: Brush twice a day for two minutes. Avoid brushing your teeth straight after a meal (especially if you’ve had fruit, fizzy drinks, wine or any other food that contains acid). Move the toothbrush in small circular movements, several times at a slight angle against the gum. Avoid putting too

much pressure on the toothbrush. Brushing too much or brushing too hard can damage the enamel and cause gum recession. Brush only one or two teeth at the time.

 

Brush the outer surface of each tooth and using the same technique brush the inner side and the biting surface of each tooth. Clean the inner surface of the front teeth by tilting the tooth brush vertically, applying the front part of the brush in order to reach the gum margin. Brush

your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen you breath.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be caused or intensified by factors such us poor oral hygiene, diet (foods such as garlic, onions, meat, fish, and cheese),smoking and alcohol consumption. During the night the mouth is exposed to less oxygen and saliva; this is why the odour is usually worse in the morning (commonly known as “morning breath”). Bad breath may be temporary and often disappears after brushing and flossing. Persistent bad breath (chronic bad breath), affects about 25% of the population in different degrees.

 

This is often a sign of gum disease. Occasionally, bad breath is the result of an infection or illness or taking some kinds of medication. Persistent bad breath can have a negative effect on the individual’s personal, social, and business relationships. In many cases it can lead to poor self-esteem and increased stress. Bad breath is something we all worry about. Your Dental Hygienist can help you by professionally removing hard tartar and food debris trapped in difficult to reach areas. They can also provide advice and guidance on mouth rinses better suited to your needs, and will provide you with a tailor made oral care routine to help you maintain a healthy and odour free smile.

Image by kevin laminto

Flossing

Dental Floss

Flossing is a very important part of your daily oral hygiene routine. By flossing daily you remove plaque and food debris that gets caught up between your teeth. This can cause the gums to bleed and the tooth surface to decay. If food debris is left between the teeth for over 24 hours, bacteria begin to gather and gum inflammation begins to take place.

 

How to floss your teeth:

  • cut about 45 centimetres of floss

  • Wrap the floss around your middle fingers leaving around an inch of floss between the fingers to floss with

  • Use your index fingers and thumbs to manoeuvre the floss around the mouth

  • Slide the floss between the contacts of the teeth, shape the floss into a “C” to match the contour of the tooth and move the floss up and down several times (8-10 strokes), reaching slightly under the gum

  • Move around the mouth repeating the process for each tooth Unwinding and winding the floss to reveal a fresh piece of floss when needed

  • Every tooth must be flossed!

  • Ensure to floss the posterior wall of the last molar too

  • Floss at least once a day, the most important time to floss is at night before bed

When you first begin to floss your gums may bleed and be slightly tender. This is normally due to bacteria that has been accumulating for some time causing inflammation. Bleeding gums in this case merely show that you are beginning to dislodge the bacteria and plaque that has gathered up. If you follow the guide above then the bleeding should stop after about a week.

Interdental brushes

Interdental brushes Interdental brushes can be used to clean between the teeth and dental restorations where larger gaps are present. Interdental brushes can be easier to use for patients who find flossing difficult.

 

They are available in different sizes, (colour coded according to size) and with large handles to facilitate their use. They can be particularly useful for interdental cleaning between teeth affected by periodontal disease (disease of the gums and the bone supporting the teeth), dental implants, around dental bridges, braces and dental crowns where dental floss cannot be easily adapted.

Image by Brett Jordan

Diet Advice

Healthy Food

Healthy Eating together with good oral hygiene will result in healthy mouths. A healthy and balanced diet will contain fresh ingredients, whether ready made or home cooked; this can help us to monitor the sugar level in our foods. Drinking plenty of water is recommended. If you drink fruit juice it should be diluted with water at a 1:3 ratio (1 part juice 3 parts water). Similarly fruit squash should be heavily diluted with water and should be limited to meal times.

 

Snacking should also be limited or completely avoided if possible. Reading product labels carefully before purchase is an important step in the prevention of tooth decay for the entire family. Eating a healthy and balanced diet will ensure the healthy development and maintenance of teeth. The essential nutrients for tooth development and maintenance include vitamins A, C, andD, as well as calcium, phosphorus, and fluoride.

Childrens Oral Hygiene

A healthy diet is crucial from the earliest age. Baby foods often contain high levels of sugar. A “sweet tooth” can be acquired from a young age and can last into later life, affecting both general and oral health. We need to minimise the amount of sugar our children take in in order to get to a good start in oral and general health.

 

As children grow up their diet changes and they are more exposed to wide variety of ready-made products. This makes it increasingly difficult to ascertain the exact contents of our and our children’s diet. Hi-sugar fizzy drinks and heavily processed foods are damaging for teeth and general health. Some of these food products can be very sticky and difficult for a child to remove when brushing. It is important for parents and carers to supervise their children’s oral hygiene until the age of about nine or when you are certain that they are no longer leaving plaque behind. Brushing together is a good way of showing your child how to brush effectively. Ask you child to copy you while you brush and praise them for a good effort, with plenty of practice they will soon learn how to brush well. Remember children learn better when having fun!

Mother with her Child

Children may begin to learn flossing at around 6 years of age. Always supervise your child when flossing until they are old enough to manoeuvre the floss on their own without causing trauma to their gums. It is good practice to bring your child along to your dental checks (as soon as the first milk tooth is through). This will give your child a chance to get familiar with the dental surgery, the dental team and what happens at a dental check up.