A key factor in keeping your teeth and gums healthy is a good oral hygiene routine. There are many immediate and long-term benefits from ensuring proper oral hygiene instructions are followed as a part of your daily routine.
These benefits outline the importance of oral hygiene:
- Stronger teeth that are less likely to decay and wear-down
- Healthier gums. Less risk of gingivitis from oral bacteria build-up
- Reduced risk of bad breath
- Better cosmetic appearance of your smile
- Longer-lasting dental work
- Less unsightly and damaging tartar build-up.
But what does a good dental hygiene routine involve?
Your exact care routine will depend on your own mouth, and your own dentist can give you specific advice. However most practices will involve the following:
- Brushing twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- Daily use of an interdental cleaner, usually with dental floss. Other oral hygiene products like a water flosser may help
- Use of a mouthwash, to help limit bacteria levels
Brushing your teeth
Brushing effectively twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste, is vital for a healthy mouth. Brushing helps clear plaque bacteria that continually builds up on the tooth surface during the day and night. If left, plaque build-up will help cause tooth decay and gingivitis.
To ensure proper brushing as part of your oral care, you need to know:
- The best toothbrush for your needs
- The best toothpaste to suit your teeth
- How to brush properly, i.e. a proper brushing technique.
The best toothbrush and best toothpaste will vary depending on your needs and age. The brushing technique will remain virtually the same for everyone. Using an electric toothbrush will need a different technique.
For children, see or page on oral hygiene for kids.
This is a very important and if neglected is a major contributor to poor oral hygiene. Brushing alone leaves a lot of the mouth uncleaned. There is a lot of room in the gaps interdentally for plaque bacteria and food debris to build up. This can then lead to decay and gum disease if left unchecked! Use of disclosing tablets can help you see how good a cleaning job you are doing.
So a vital component of your dental hygiene routine is to ensure that you are cleaning interdentally on a daily basis. Flossing is the most common method of achieving this for most people, but there are other interdental cleaners that might suit you better. Our advice page on flossing will explain more. Make sure you use a proper technique. An alternative to flossing that may benefit some, is the use of a waterpik (see image).
Note that denture care is also important! Check our page on keeping dentures clean here.
Using a mouthwash is another tool you can use to ensure a clean mouth and healthy teeth and gums.
It is important to note that this is only effective if used after physical cleaning with brushing and flossing. Otherwise the mouthwash cannot get past the plaque build-up to work effectively. As such, it should be considered as finishing touch to your dental care routine, as opposed to the main weapon! For more, head to our best mouthwash article.
So you now know the main tools needed as part of your dental hygiene routine. Delve into the individual pages for detailed and specific advice on the key components of good oral hygiene. Just click on the images or the links above.