What Constitutes Dental Hygiene & Oral Hygiene?
Dental hygiene or oral hygiene refers to having clean, healthy teeth and gums. The definition can also include healthy bone tissue in the jaw, healthy soft tissue on the palate and throughout the mouth, and a healthy esophagus.
When little to no effort is taken to regularly clean the oral cavity, a number of problems begin to develop. Tooth enamel becomes coated with plaque, which hardens to tartar. Cavities (caries) appear in teeth as bacteria eat their way through the enamel on the tooth's surface.
Left unchecked, bacteria will then destroy the inner pulp of the tooth until the infection requires a root canal or an extraction and a dental implant.
Bacteria also colonize on gums and below them. This may lead to gingivitis or advanced periodontal disease, which can involve bleeding of the gums, pain, inflammation, and (ultimately) tooth loss.
How Does One Achieve & Maintain Good Oral Health?
Persistence at a good oral and dental hygiene regimen at home is the number one way to prevent oral health problems. You need to brush and floss at least twice a day - once in the morning after breakfast and once in the evening just before going to sleep.
Be sure to gently brush gums with a soft-bristled toothbrush and to use a gingivitis-fighting antiseptic mouthwash. Your gum health is no less important than your tooth health!
Also, you need to follow a healthy diet to promote dental hygiene. That means plenty of water to keep your mouth clean, not too many sweets and processed foods, and hearty helpings of fresh fruits and vegetables. And you should make sure your kids see a dentist and/or periodontist twice a year so any problems are caught and corrected early.
How Can I Encourage My Kids To Guard Their Oral Health?
There are a number of good strategies to use in encouraging sustained dental hygiene and oral health in your children. Here are some of the most important ideas to that effect:
- Make sure they are drinking water and using toothpaste that includes fluoride. Buy bottled water with fluoride added to it if your local tap water lacks it. Fluoride helps shield tooth enamel from decay - shark teeth, for example, never get cavities because of the heavy fluoride coating over them.
- Be sure your kids are following a healthy diet. Make sure they drink lots of water every day and eat an apple, raw carrot stick, celery, or something that will naturally scrape their teeth clean. Avoid giving them lots of high-sugar foods.
- Make sure your child brushes and flosses properly and regularly. Have a set time of day for it, and monitor or assist young children. Let them use floss sticks and toothpaste and mouthwash with cartoon or other characters on them to make brushing time fun!
- Consider asking your child to chew sugarless gum rather than regular gum. Sugarless gum stimulates saliva release which cleans teeth and gums and kills bacteria.
- Ask your periodontist about adding a dental sealant to back teeth, where most cavities occur early in life.
Your child's dental hygiene is too important to leave to chance. Take steps now to protect it, and it could save his/her teeth. To learn more on promoting oral health with kids, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics & Implant Dentistry today!