Oral Hygiene: A dentist’s view on easy to use practices for your oral health.

Oral hygiene is pivotal in maintaining good health, and it is well known that a healthy mouth is a gateway to a healthy body. While people are familiar with common practices like tooth brushing, it is important to follow a methodical approach to the various resources available to maintain a healthy smile. Let us discuss some of the common oral hygiene practices.

Brushing

It is one of the most important and unavoidable oral hygiene practices. It is important to maintain a clean tooth surface to avoid plaque formation. Plaques on the dental surface apart from looking unsightly, house harmful bacteria.

Technique: The Modified Bass method is the one of the most commonly practiced brushing method. According to this method, the head of the toothbrush is held between the teeth and cheek with the bristles of the toothbrush at the junction of gums and the tooth at an angle of about 45 degrees to the tooth surface. Gently brush your teeth in small circular motions cleaning about three teeth at a time. After brushing the outer surface  (buccal surface) of all teeth in this way, the inner surface of all teeth is then cleaned in a similar manner. The inner surfaces of the upper and lower front teeth are cleaned in a sweeping motion. The bristles are held at an angle of 45 degrees for the front teeth and move away from the gums (i.e. bristles are swiped upwards for lower front teeth and swiped downwards for upper front teeth).

Dental Flossing

Flossing is again an important oral hygiene procedure. There are various types of dental floss available with varying thickness and texture. The thickness of floss is selected by an individual on the basis of his or her teeth arrangement. Fine dental floss is used for flossing in the areas where teeth are in tight contact.

Technique: Take about 8 inches of dental floss. Wrap it around middle fingers of both hands such that the floss between both the middle fingers is neither too long nor too short.  Remember, if floss between the two middle fingers is too long, it will be loose and give you less control during pull motion of flossing. And if the floss between the middle fingers is too short, flossing will be difficult due to lack of enough space. After wrapping the floss on middle fingers, use the index finger of your right hand as a pincher for the floss (if you are right-handed, and left-handed individuals may use index finger of their left hand) and slide the tightened floss between two teeth until below the contact point of two teeth till    the floss reaches the gum. Then pull the floss out along the tooth surface of one tooth. Then repeat the procedure, but pulling out the floss along the surface of the other tooth involved. So flossing between two teeth requires flossing in the region twice in order to clean both teeth. Floss in the whole mouth in a similar manner.

Mouthwash

Mouthwashes are antibacterial solutions that help prevent plaque buildup, fights infection and give freshness to the mouth. There are various mouthwashes available. They vary in their constitution and purpose. Try to consult your dentist for a mouthwash, during your regular visits. They will suggest you the most suitable mouthwash according to your need.

Technique: Mouthwashes generally have directions written on their container. Most of them usually come with a measuring cup. A measured amount of solution is used to rinse the mouth for about 30 seconds and is then spat out. Remember, mouthwashes are an adjunct to tooth brushing and are never its substitute. Mouthwash is used following tooth brushing and flossing.

Inter-dental brushing

It is a helpful practice in people with open spaces or wide spaces between teeth. It is also used in areas where gums have receded down between teeth.

Technique: Hold the proximal (Interdental) brush between index finger and thumb. Point it towards the interdental area to be cleaned. Gently slide it inside the interdental area from the outer surface (the surface facing lips and cheek) to the inner surface (the surface facing tongue or palate). Pull it back along the same axis. Clean all the interdental spaces in a similar manner.

Water Floss

It is an oral hygiene method gaining wide popularity these days. This device uses a water jet as the agent to flush away any debris or deposits on teeth and gums. It is especially effective in cleaning deep periodontal pockets (abnormally deep pockets of gums around teeth).

Technique: Water floss comes with a wide range of pressure settings and a number of head attachments. For regular use, a jet tip is usually used. Always start with the lowest pressure setting in the beginning stage and gradually start using higher pressure settings. Put the tip of the floss head on an angle of 90 degrees to the teeth and gum surfaces to be cleaned. It should be held in such a way that it shoots water right along the gum line and spaces between the teeth. Move it along the gum line in the whole mouth to clean.

Rubber tip stimulator

It is used to move the plaque which is underneath the gum line (in the root area of the tooth) and at the same time it firm ups the gum. It reaches the area beneath the gum line where toothbrushes generally cannot reach. It is especially recommended for individuals after gum surgeries.

Technique: Hold the rubber tip stimulator at about 45 degrees to gum and tooth surface. Gently move it back and forth along the gum line slightly inside the gums of each tooth. Start from the last tooth on one side of the arch and continue along the arch until the last tooth on the other side of the arch. Repeat it in the opposite arch as well. After cleaning with rubber tip stimulator, flush off the loosened debris by rinsing the mouth.

With the regular and correct use of these practices and regular visits to your dentist for cleaning and health maintenance, you can achieve the care that your teeth deserve.

About Dr. Namrita Malhan BDS

Dr. Malhan is a dentist who hails from the city of Ujjain, in Madhya Pradesh, India. She is passionate about sharing her knowledge with the community and conducts several health awareness camps and free dental checks. She is the founder of the website www.preservingsmiles.com. This is a philanthropic initiative where she uses easy to understand infographics and images to help the community take better care of their oral health. Currently, Dr. Malhan is pursuing her research interests in dentistry in New York City, USA.