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General Oral Care

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 17 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Teeth; Gums; Tongue; Brushing; Flossing;

The most important factor in oral hygiene is prevention. By ensuring good practices are exercised regularly, for just a few minutes a day, you can help to avoid oral pain, decreased confidence and potentially expensive treatments.

Preventative Measures

Diet plays a very important role in the prevention of tooth and gum conditions. Products that are high in sugar are particularly dangerous for your teeth. Sugar causes an excessive production of plaque which puts teeth at risk of decay; it also produces higher levels of acid that can cause erosion of the teeth.

Avoidance of dark food and drinks, such as black coffee, red wine and blackcurrant can help to prevent teeth from becoming discoloured.

Smoking should be stopped as aside from discolouring teeth and causing bad breath, can limit the oxygen supply to gums that will affect the overall health of the mouth.

Regular visits to the dentist will ensure that any conditions are diagnosed early and can be treated with minimal effort, which will also be reflected in your pocket.

Consequences of Poor Oral Hygiene

Tooth decay, gum disease and halitosis (bad breath), can all develop due to the neglect of oral health. Not just a health problem, bad hygiene of the mouth can have significant outcomes on social issues and career progression. The consequences of a neglected mouth can have a serious effect on our appearance and bad breath can affect us socially.

Tooth Decay

When a build-up of plaque comes into contact with saliva or food, a large amount of bacteria can develop. This bacteria can attack teeth and lead to the erosion of the enamel (the external layer of a tooth), and create a hole that will allow a breeding ground for the bacteria. These holes can cause a great deal of pain and discomfort and will need to be treated by a dentist.

Gum Disease

Gum disease is the most common cause for adult tooth loss and is one of the main reasons for the development of halitosis.Gum disease occurs when poor hygiene techniques result in the gums becoming infected and inflamed. The gums can bleed or even recede, exposing the roots of the teeth and putting them at more risk of damage.


Halitosis, or bad breath, is normally caused by a dry mouth, hunger, a build-up of plaque or by eating foods that have a high aroma content such as garlic.

Treatments that can be performed at home include the use of an antiseptic mouthwash, regular brushing and flossing and brushing of the tongue; most people will need to see their oral hygienist for specialist advice.

Alcohol and alcohol based products should be avoided as alcohol is a dehydrating agent and can cause the condition to worsen.

Brushing and Flossing

Brushing and flossing the teeth should be an integral part of your everyday routine. The tooth brush should not be so firm that it is not pliable and cannot accommodate the small crevices between and around the teeth. Flossing is an additional method of ensuring debris between the teeth that a toothbrush cannot reach is removed and plaque levels are kept to a minimum. It is recommended that flossing should be done twice a day. An anti-septic mouthwash could be used to help freshen breath and rinse the debris from the oral cavity.

Toothpastes now often come with added fluoride, a substance that helps to protect teeth from decay.Extra care should be taken in those who are pregnant, elderly, those with limited physical ability and of course children. Children should be taught of the importance of oral hygiene and correct techniques for brushing and flossing at the earliest age possible. Prevention at this age can be reflected throughout their adult life.

Oral hygiene is important for physical, social and psychological needs. By ensuring a satisfactory regime is employed, many conditions can be prevented.

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