Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping your mouth clean and healthy. It involves regularly brushing and flossing your teeth and gums as well as attending routine check-ups at your dentist.
But why is oral hygiene important?
Practicing good oral hygiene can prevent tooth decay, gum disease, bad breath and tooth loss.
Poor oral hygiene can affect your ability to eat, drink and speak. It can impact your self-esteem and your health and well-being, too. For example, if you have an infection in your mouth, it can reach other areas of your body via the bloodstream – leading to health conditions like heart disease and stroke.
In this blog, elleven Dental dentist in London, explains more about why oral hygiene is so important and what you can do to improve your dental health.
How to have good dental hygiene:
Proper oral hygiene protects your teeth and gums against infection and various health problems.
Here are just some of the things you can do to keep your smile healthy:
• Brush your teeth twice a day – using a fluoride toothpaste and soft-bristled toothbrush, brush your teeth and gums to remove any plaque and bacteria. Don’t forget to clean the backs and sides of your teeth, too!
• Floss daily – unfortunately, you won’t be able to reach the spaces in between your teeth with your toothbrush alone. And that’s where dental floss comes in handy. An alternative to floss would be to use interproximal brushes, dental picks or a water flosser.
• Clean your tongue – your tongue holds bacteria like a sponge. To remove, debris, plaque and bacteria (and protect against bad breath), you mustn’t forget to brush your tongue. Some toothbrushes have a tongue cleaner on the back, under the bristles, but you may decide to purchase a tongue scraper.
• Use antibacterial mouthwash – rinsing your mouth with an antibacterial mouthwash not only freshens the breath but also washes away food, debris and plaque – keeping harmful bacteria at bay. Choosing an alcohol-free mouthwash will help to prevent dry mouth.
• Visit your dentist regularly – if you’re to maintain good oral health, you must attend routine dental exams, cleanings and X-rays at your dental practice (usually once every six months). But if you suffer from a medical condition, you have gum disease or you’re pregnant, your dental hygienist may recommend scheduling visits more frequently.
• Avoid smoking – if you smoke, you’re at a higher risk of developing oral cancer and gum disease. You may also experience tooth loss and decay and complications after tooth removal and oral surgery. Therefore, the best thing you can do for your oral health is stop smoking (or vaping) tobacco.
How often should you floss?
We all know that we need to brush our teeth at least twice a day, but this only targets the surfaces. Dental floss can clean those hard-to-reach areas in the mouth – including between the teeth and along the gum line.
To prevent plaque from building up (and reduce your risk of developing gum disease), you need to be flossing your teeth at least once a day.
The best time to floss is at night before you go to bed – before you brush your teeth. By flossing first, you can use your toothbrush to remove any of the substances you dislodge from your teeth using the floss.
With that said, though, flossing your teeth as often as you brush them will protect against cavities and gum disease – removing any debris that may be stuck between your teeth.
Is a water flosser worth it?
Dentists like ourselves, here at elleven Dental, are great advocates of interdental cleaning – whether it be flossing with string floss or a water flosser.
Whilst both options allow you to reach areas a toothbrush simply cannot, to help you determine whether a water flosser is worth the investment, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.
Convenience – Unlike string floss, water flossing doesn’t involve any fiddling around, which is ideal if you suffer from arthritis or reduced dexterity. You also don’t need to look in the mirror or hold your mouth open awkwardly. Water flossers can be used with your mouth closed.
Control – With a handle to grip onto, a water flosser gives you greater control and direction than a thin piece of string. You can simply adjust the settings to suit your personal preference.
Gentle on the gums – If you have gum disease, the pulsating action of a water flosser can stimulate the gum tissue and flush out the bacteria that’s lodged beneath the gum line, as opposed to floss which requires some serious digging and scraping.
Costly – Whether you opt for a basic cordless model or one with all the bells and whistles, you can expect to pay anywhere up to £100 for a water flosser. Making them an expensive alternative to dental floss string which is widely available in supermarkets.
Ineffective – Although a water flosser is guaranteed to make it easier for you to floss, it’s not guaranteed to remove all plaque from your teeth. It’s also unable to mimic the scraping action that’s achieved with floss for removing tartar from your teeth.
Messy – It can take some time to get to grips with water flossing. If you’ve not yet mastered the technique, water and saliva could end up spraying all over your bathroom.
There’s no denying that a water flosser will enhance your dental hygiene routine – helping to fight against gum disease and bleeding. It’s also less painful if you have particularly sensitive gums and makes it easier for those with braces who struggle with string floss.
However, some people prefer to use dental floss to scrape and loosen the plaque from the surfaces of their teeth. Though not compulsory, they can then use the water flosser to rinse out the residue for an ultra-fresh feeling in their mouth.
How often should you replace your toothbrush head?
Proper oral hygiene involves brushing your teeth – morning and night. However, when used regularly, the bristles on your toothbrush can become frayed and worn. And when this happens, they lose their effectiveness in terms of keeping your teeth clean.
Whether you use a manual brush or an electric one, our dental professionals highly recommend changing your toothbrush or brush head every 90 days. If you brush your teeth more than twice a day or for longer than two minutes, you may need to pick up a replacement sooner.
Luckily, there are a few signs that indicate it’s time to change your toothbrush head, including:
• The bristles are pointing in all different directions
• The brush head is damaged
• The colour indicator changed
A great way to maintain your oral health by ensuring you’re using a suitable toothbrush would be to set up a subscription for every 3 months. This way, you won’t need to remember to pick up new toothbrush heads from the shop and, instead, they’ll be delivered to your door.
How often should you see the dental hygienist?
Given how important oral hygiene is, we usually recommend our patients book an appointment with our dental hygienist in Harley Street every six months. But some factors can affect how often you need to visit.
For example, if you have crowns or fillings or a history of dental diseases, you’ll likely need to attend appointments with our hygienist once every four months.
If you’re at risk of contracting gum disease – either because of your genetic composition, adolescence, pregnancy or ongoing orthodontic procedures – it’s advisable to schedule examinations and cleanings with us every three months.
We often advise you to come to see our dental hygienist in Harley Street four times a year if you have dentures. This way, we can check for damages and make any necessary adjustments and repairs to prolong their functionality for as long as possible.
If you have children, appointments should be made for them to see the dental hygienist every four to six months.
Our dental team can educate little ones on how to brush and floss their teeth properly – reducing their chances of suffering from tooth decay and gum disease in their adult years. It’s also good to get them into the routine of visiting the dentist from an early age, so they keep up good oral hygiene habits throughout their lifetime and don’t feel anxious
Get in touch with elleven Dental
If you need further tips and advice on how to improve your oral hygiene and achieve your dream smile, you’d like to discuss your concerns, or book an appointment with our dental hygienists, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
You can either call our clinic on 020 7018 2267 or send us an email, and we’ll get back to you shortly.