Oral Hygiene Instructions

Oral hygiene is the best means of prevention of cavities (dental caries), gingivitis, periodontitis, and other dental disorders. It also helps to prevent bad breath (halitosis). Oral hygiene is necessary for all persons to maintain the health of their teeth and mouth. Healthy teeth have less cavities. They are clean and have minimal or no plaque deposits. Healthy gums are pink and firm.

Oral hygiene consists of both personal and professional care. Dental X-rays may be performed as part of routine professional examinations.

PERSONAL CARE

Careful brushing and flossing help to prevent build-up of plaque and calculus (tartar).

The teeth should be brushed at least twice daily and flossed at least once per day. For some people, brushing and flossing may be recommended after every meal and at bedtime. Consult the dentist or dental hygienist if instruction or demonstration of proper brushing and flossing techniques is needed.

Special appliances or tools may be recommended to supplement (but not to replace) tooth brushing and flossing. These include special toothpicks, toothbrushes, water irrigation, or other devices. Initially electric toothbrushes were only recommended for persons who have problems with strength or dexterity of their hands, but many dentists are now recommending them to many other patients in order to improve their dental home care.

Fluoride-containing, or anti-plaque (tartar control) toothpastes or mouth rinses may be recommended by the dentist or dental hygienist.

Dentures, retainers, and other appliances must be kept extremely clean. This includes regular brushing and may include soaking them in a cleansing solution.

PROFESSIONAL CARE

Regular tooth cleaning by the dentist or dental hygienist is important to remove plaque that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing, especially in areas that are difficult for a patient to reach on their own at home. Professional cleaning includes scaling and polishing. This involves the use of various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from the teeth.

Most dentists recommend having the teeth professionally cleaned every 6 months. Patients who are susceptable or have a history of periodontal disease typically require a cleaning frequency of every 3 to 4 months. More frequent cleaning and examination may be necessary during the treatment of many of the dental/oral disorders. Routine examination of the teeth is recommended at least every year. This may include yearly, select dental X-rays.

OUTCOME

Good oral hygiene prevents, and is vital to the treatment of many of the dental and oral disorders. Good oral hygiene results in healthy teeth and mouth.

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