Why Is Good Dental Hygiene Important?
While a crooked smile or missing teeth may be unpleasant on the eye, it seems as though we have plenty of ways of fixing or replacing our teeth, so why do we still need to look after them? Having good dental hygiene has numerous advantages to our health, not just in our mouths but in our whole bodies.
Let’s look at why oral hygiene is so important for your health and what you can do to keep your mouth in tip-top condition.
Importance of Oral Hygiene
Oral hygiene is of course important for the sake of your mouth health. Without brushing, flossing or using mouthwash, food would stay in our mouths, stuck between our teeth, feeding the bacteria in our mouths and causing our teeth to decay. A mouth full of bacteria would also cause gum disease, ulcers and even tonsillitis, all of which can be very painful.
But keeping our teeth and gums clean has implications beyond our mouths, it can also prevent other illnesses. Having any kind of infection in the body produces a response of increased production of white blood cells to fight the infection, which causes the body temperature to rise, sometimes resulting in fever, as well as painful glands and swelling in the infected area. An untreated infection in our mouths can cause each of these symptoms, which can then cause inflammation of the arteries, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Cardiovascular refers to the heart and blood system in the body which is responsible for supplying the whole body with oxygen and nutrients, so it’s crucial we protect our cardiovascular health as much as possible. Putting pressure on our hearts can lead to very serious complications and can even be fatal, though many people don’t realise the serious knock-on effect that poor dental hygiene can have.
Some diseases can even be first spotted through problems in our mouths, such as diabetes which can cause lesions or infections in the mouth, so looking after our teeth and gums is essential for our overall health.
Oral Hygiene Practices
Keeping your teeth clean and bacteria-free is of the utmost importance for many reasons. But many people don’t know how best to look after their teeth and some simply neglect their oral hygiene altogether. Here’s what you should be doing to keep your mouth – and thus the rest of your body – healthy.
Most people know you should brush your teeth twice a day to keep them clean, but despite knowing this, unfortunately, not everyone does this. In fact, studies into British dental hygiene habits show that one-quarter of British adults only brush their teeth once a day, skipping brushing their teeth before bed.
While brushing twice a day is important, it’s also important for your tooth and gum health that you brush at the right times. Many of us wake up and start our day with a cup of tea or coffee and neglect brushing our teeth in the morning completely, or brush after we’ve had a drink or breakfast. Stop doing this!
We should brush our teeth first thing in the morning, before having anything to eat or drink except clear water, because brushing after eating or drinking will push the bacteria, acids and sugars into the gaps in our teeth, feeding the bacteria that has been living in our mouths overnight and causing tooth decay. It’s understandable to not want to go to work with coffee breath or bits of cereal stuck in between your teeth, but you shouldn’t brush your teeth within one hour after eating to help keep your mouth healthier.
Tea and coffee may seem harmless at first glance, at least more so than sugary breakfast cereals or pastries, but coffee is very acidic, and tea is full of tannins that cause staining, so both for the sake of the health and colour of your teeth, you should always brush your teeth before your morning brew.
What’s more, you should also be brushing your tongue! Our tongues hold onto a lot of bacteria which can cause tooth decay and gum disease if not removed, so when you brush your teeth, give your tongue a quick brush as well to remove any unwanted microbes.
You should also be flossing your teeth twice a day at the same time as you brush. Flossing reaches into the gaps in your teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach and the flossing motion prevents bacteria and harmful substances from residing in these gaps, causing plaque to build up and eat away at the teeth. In mouths with very cramped teeth, flossing can be difficult, but it’s very important you regularly floss as much as you can to prevent cavities.
Brushing and flossing are crucial for good dental hygiene to remove larger pieces of food and bacteria, however, there are always places we can’t reach with a toothbrush, and parts of your mouth you wouldn’t necessarily want to brush, such as the roof of your mouth and gums, although they may still hold bacteria. This is where mouthwash comes in.
Swilling mouthwash around our mouths twice a day, every day, kills most, if not all, of the harmful microbes in our mouths that cause tooth decay and gum disease. So it’s really important for your health to use mouthwash as well as brush. Mouthwash is not a replacement for brushing.
What Does a Dental Hygienist Do?
If you look after your own dental hygiene well enough, what’s a dental hygienist for? Despite all our efforts to brush, floss and remove bacteria with mouthwash, some bacteria can remain and cause plaque to build up which eats away at our teeth. That’s why you should regularly see a dental hygienist.
A dental hygienist will give an overall assessment of your oral health to a dentist if any major procedures need to be undertaken such as tooth extraction, but they’re not qualified to perform any procedures themselves. Instead, they’ll help you to keep your teeth in great condition by scraping away the plaque and tartar from your teeth that you’re unable to remove yourself from brushing, to prevent tooth decay and keep your gums healthy.
They can also apply fluoride and protective substances to the outer layer of your teeth to prevent further tooth decay as well as leave you with a whiter and brighter smile. Removing stains doesn’t just make your smile look more attractive, it also helps remove harmful substances that are affecting your teeth to improve your dental hygiene.
How Often Should You See a Dental Hygienist?
How often you see a dentist or dental hygienist largely depends on your teeth and your oral health. Most people should visit a dental hygienist twice a year to have their teeth cleaned and any concerns with their oral health raised. Although, people with very cramped teeth that they struggle to keep clean with toothpaste, dental floss and mouthwash, should visit their dental hygienist more regularly to prevent losing any teeth from tooth decay.
Conversely, if you take excellent care of your teeth and your dental hygienist has very little work to do, you can just visit them once a year instead. Plus, since NHS dental care is subsidised but not free for most people in the UK, you can save money on your dentists’ visits by maintaining good dental hygiene! Private dentists are slightly more expensive but look after you in exactly the same way – if not better than the NHS.
Book Your Dental Hygiene Appointment Today!
At Didsbury Dental Practice, we want to get Britain smiling again! With affordable dental appointments available 7 days a week, 365 days a year, there’s no need to worry about booking an NHS dentist appointment and experiencing long wait times.