When we eat, residue of our food remains in the mouth and lodges in the teeth. This causes bacteria to multiply and they become a source of infection in the mouth, eventually causing rotting of teeth. Bacteria and food residue form plaque, calculus and tartar on the teeth, especially near its junction with the gums. Oral hygiene is the best way to prevent diseases of the mouth and its resultant complications. Gums are the supporting structures that anchor teeth within the bone. Thus, healthy gums and teeth are essential for good hygiene.
Oral Hygiene Methods
Although brushing aids the removal of food debris, its main goal is to remove plaque.
Method of brushing:
Hold the brush at an angle of about 45° with the gum line. Gently move the brush in a circular motion on the teeth. To massage the gums, move it in an up and down motion to dislodge the plaque. Do it on both the outer and inner surface of teeth. For chewing surfaces of the back teeth, move the brush back and forth.
When to brush
When the 1st teeth appear, a cotton bud can be used to clean the tooth surface. Regular brushing should be started about age 3-4 with very little amounts of toothpaste. Parents should teach children how to brush their teeth properly.
Brushing should be done twice daily, in the morning and before going to bed.
The brush should have a small head and soft bristles so that it does not injure the teeth and gums.
Change of brush The brush should be changed every 2 months. If it loses its shape before that then it is an indication that too much pressure is being applied and this can damage the gums and teeth.
The recent marketing blitz and increasing number of toothpastes has caused quite a confusion among people. Brushing with a toothpaste helps remove plaque, a soft, sticky harmful film of bacteria that leads to decay.
Toothpaste vs Gel There is not much difference between toothpaste and gels and one can use whatever flavour one likes best. The basic purpose of a toothpaste is the foaming action which helps wash away plaque easily.
Whitening toothpastes They should not be used excessively due to their abrasiveness. The efficacy of these toothpastes is also questionable. Whitening of teeth is best done in the dental clinic by a professional.
Toothpaste should contain fluoride, but it should be used with caution in regions of endemic fluorosis (high levels of fluorine in the water supplied).
How much is to be used?
You don't need to heap the toothpaste on the brush as it is shown in commercials. A pea sized dab on the top half of the brush is sufficient. Children under 6 years should be given half this amount.
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