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  • Writer's pictureTatiana Phillips

Why Is Oral Hygiene Important?

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Did you brush your teeth this morning? How about last night? Did you floss?

A little boy wearing a blue tee shirt who is pointing out his missing tooth.

If you only answered yes to one of those questions, or if none were a yes, you’re in the right place to change those habits around. Even if you answered yes, reading up on good oral hygiene practices is worth reviewing to ensure you’re doing everything possible to prevent future issues. Oral hygiene is the cornerstone of your overall health.

Because dental care is sometimes an obstacle or challenge for those who live in rural areas such as Hardee and DeSoto Counties, it’s imperative to try and maintain proper dental health as much as possible. Statistically, rural communities suffer more from tooth decay, gum disease, untreated cavities, and other oral ailments than suburban or urban areas. This is because there is a lower provider-to-population ratio, insufficient or lack of dental health benefits, transportation obstacles, lack of childcare, poverty, and a lack of awareness and education. Since oral hygiene plays such a crucial role in your overall health, it’s important to understand what habits to form and how to maintain optimal oral hygiene.

Fun Fact: “Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbes that multiply and lead to disease.”

While your mouth deserves to be free from cavities, gum disease, and bad breath, your body has the potential to be greatly impacted by poor hygiene practices. Oral hygiene affects digestion and respiratory tracts since your mouth is the gateway to bacteria. Unfortunately, poor dental health can lead to endocarditis, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy and birth complications, and pneumonia.

Building an Effective Oral Care Routine

Proper oral hygiene involves several daily habits, annual practices, and for some of you, lifestyle changes, too. While you may already brush your teeth daily, it’s important to look at what toothpaste you’re using and how often throughout the day you’re brushing.

Daily Oral Hygiene Care

  • Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day. Ideally, you should brush your teeth after every meal.

  • Brush your teeth using a fluoride toothpaste and a soft toothbrush. Fluoride toothpaste is recommended because “In small doses, fluoride strengthens tooth enamel against acids created by the bacteria in your mouth. Long term, this approach decreases the rate of tooth decay and lessens the number of cavities the average person experiences”.

  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day to remove any food and dental plaque.

  • Rinse with a mouthwash twice a day. Choosing the right mouthwash for you may require speaking with your dentist about what problem areas need more attention.

Dental Cleanings

Getting your teeth cleaned by a dentist twice a year is highly recommended. If you’re unable to go twice a year, at the very least, you should get a dental cleaning once a year. Dental cleanings aren’t just good for your teeth; they also provide a deeper look into your gum health and diagnose potential decay through semi-regular X-rays. Call or email our Community Health Workers for assistance setting up dental appointments.

Beyond the Basics: Advanced Oral Hygiene Practices

Good oral hygiene starts with the above-mentioned practices, but it’s important to note other contributing factors such as alcohol habits, eating habits, and avoiding tobacco products.

Alcohol - Drinking alcohol will dehydrate you. When you’re dehydrated, your saliva has a tougher time producing the amount your body needs to clear out bacteria.

Food - It’s no surprise that drinking plenty of water can impact your saliva production for natural oral cleansing, but food containing water is also helpful. Some great water-rich foods include watermelon, cucumbers, tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms, honeydew, broccoli, brussel sprouts, oranges, apples, and blueberries. Additionally, diet and nutrition play a crucial role in good oral hygiene. “Diet and nutrition are significant influencers of oral health and can affect the development and progression of oral diseases and conditions such as caries, periodontal disease, erosion, and others.”

Tobacco - Tobacco products are a leading cause of oral cancer and should not be used. Additionally, tobacco products can cause gum disease and tooth decay.

Minimizing harmful habits such as alcohol and tobacco use and increasing positive habits such as drinking plenty of water, staying hydrated with water-rich foods, eating nutritious, healthy food, and maintaining regular teeth cleanliness are all great ways to promote good oral health care.

Taking proactive measures to ensure proper oral hygiene is and should be a top priority, even if your teeth are dentures. Good dental care starts at home and with you. If you want further assistance on what you can do to set up dental appointments and manage good oral hygiene, contact our Community Health Workers today!

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