<strong>Daily Oral Hygiene</strong>
Daily Oral Hygiene

Hygiene is one of the main ways to maintain our health. Within daily hygiene, we must not forget to take care of our mouths throughout every stage of life, because without it we are at risk for many different diseases.

A baby’s teeth should be taken care of from the moment they appear, around seven months after birth. Moist gauze may be used on gums where teeth have not yet erupted, after taking a bottle or eating food. It is also recommended for babies to visit a paediatric dentist to check if tooth development is on track. 

It is parents’ responsibility, with the paediatric dentist’s professional guidance, to instil good oral hygiene habits in children. Selecting the right toothbrush with soft filaments is important for effective cleaning of teeth and gums. It is also useful to ask for professional advice when selecting a toothpaste or gel. In most cases, fluoride is recommended (to strengthen tooth enamel), and should be applied conscientiously. Mouth rinses may be used when children have acquired the ability to spit and not swallow liquid.

During adolescence, as the dimensions of the oral cavity start to change, it is wise to substitute children’s toothbrushes and toothpaste with adult products. Then, during adulthood, the acquired oral hygiene habits, along with regular dental visits, must be maintained throughout the rest of your life.

ASSOCIATED PROBLEMS

The oral cavity has a highly diverse ecosystem, with up to 600 different microbial species that colonise different habitats. Oral biofilm (bacterial plaque) is a complex and organised community of microorganisms that work together to create conditions that support the survival of the most demanding bacterial species. The pathogenic bacteria that are found in oral biofilms are responsible for the aetiology of the two main oral diseases: caries and periodontitis. It is important to remember that neglecting oral hygiene can eventually lead to tooth loss.

ORAL CLEANING

The goal of proper oral hygiene is to remove oral biofilm and its harmful effects on teeth and gums. The main guidelines to follow are:

  • Use plaque disclosers. These make the oral biofilm visible and therefore easier to remove through brushing.
  • Clean teeth daily. Tooth brushing is done to remove debris that is left behind in the mouth after eating, but particularly to eliminate dental bacterial plaque. It should be done at least three times per day and may require between three and four minutes.

Using a proper brushing technique is essential. It must be done in an orderly fashion, starting with the occlusal side, which is used for chewing, and continuing with the upper arch, first with the surface that touches the cheeks and/or lips and then moving on to the palatine surface. The same process should then be repeated in the lower arch. Brush movement should be gentle and slow, and all nooks and crannies must be cleaned. Try to avoid rough or horizontal movements, since they might cause wear of tooth enamel and gum abrasion.

For removing the bacteria responsible for gum disease from the gingival sulcus, the Bass technique is recommended. This technique involves tilting the brush to a 45º angle between teeth and gums, so that the filaments are touching the gumline and two or three teeth. It is advisable to make very small vibratory or circular motions with the handle without exerting pressure and making sure that the filaments do not move from their position against the gums. For cleaning anterior teeth from the lingual side, the toothbrush should be placed vertically.

When choosing from our toothbrushes it is best for the brush head size not to be very big and for the filaments to be medium or soft, to better adapt to the tooth anatomy while not being abrasive. Toothbrushes should be changed approximately every 2-4 months, depending on their level of wear. A toothbrush that is worn does not properly remove oral biofilm, and can also harm gums. If an electric toothbrush is used, remember that it already has movement, and therefore it is advisable to shift from one surface to another very slowly, and a conventional brushing technique can even be used if the brush head allows.

To clean between teeth (interproximal spaces), dental floss or tape can be used, or for wide spaces, interproximal brushes of different sizes can be used. It is very important to clean these areas at least once per day, since they make up 40% of the entire brushing surface. Therefore, if dental floss and interproximal brushes are not used, we are not cleaning almost half of our mouth.

  • Tongue cleaning. Special tongue cleaners or scrapers exist to facilitate this job. Tongue cleaning should be done with a back-to-front movement to sweep away food debris, desquamated cells, mucus, bacteria, etc.
  • Oral irrigators. The direct application of a stream of water or mouthwash helps remove bacterial build-up from teeth, gums and hard-to-reach areas.
  • Mouthrinses (daily use or specific depending on the need), help to achieve complete oral hygiene, efficiently reduce oral biofilm and provide maximum freshness.
  • Moderate intake of sugary foods. They should ideally be avoided altogether, but if they are consumed, teeth must be washed afterward.
  • Visit the dentist regularly. It is advisable to visit the dentist for a check-up and for a professional cleaning at least 1-2 times per year.

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