The basics of good oral hygiene

Why is developing good dental hygiene important?
Developing good dental hygiene is extremely important in fighting against dental problems such as dental caries, gum disease and halitosis, which are mostly the result of an accumulation of dental plaque and dental calculus.

Dental plaque and dental calculus:
Dental plaque is a white-ish substance that develops every day, and adheres to teeth. It is mostly found on the gum line, or in between teeth. It is composed mainly of microscopic bacteria, food, and saliva, and it matures and becomes a problem if one eats a carbohydrate and sugar rich diet (source of nutrition for bacteria) or does not adequately clean their teeth.
Dental calculus is a form of hardened dental plaque and is caused by the continual accumulation of minerals from saliva. It causes a roughened and hard covering over the tooth, which allows more plaque to adhere to teeth, and potentially cause or exacerbate problems.

The problems of dental plaque and dental calculus?
Dental caries(tooth decay)
Tooth decay occurs when small holes (cavities) form in the tooth due to the accumulation of dental plaque. When the sugar and carbohydrates that are a part of our diet comes into contact with plaque, the result is acid formation. Over time, if the combination of plaque and an acidic environment is left to occur, tooth decay will result.

Gum disease
Gum disease refers to any infection or inflammation of the gums surrounding the teeth, although it is mostly a result of an accumulation of dental plaque. Healthy gums are pink and do not hurt or bleed when brushed. Unhealthy gums are open to the bacteria in plaque causing an inflammation called gingivitis. Gingivitis is a reversible condition, in that if the plaque is removed completely, the problem will solve itself. If the tissues that connect the teeth to the gums (bone, ligaments etc.) become involved, then it is called periodontitis – this step is irreversible.

Bad breath (halitosis)
Halitosis, the technical term for bad breath, is also often the result of unhealthy plaque build up. Halitosis can be a result of many medical conditions. Dental plaque-related halitosis results when the gums become infected or inflamed due to the bacteria in plaque. Keeping the teeth and gums clean, and even brushing the tongue may prevent this condition.

How to maintain good dental hygiene
Good dental hygiene means getting into the routine of thoroughly cleaning the mouth at least once or twice a day, though preferably after every meal. The following discussion considers some important aspects of keeping teeth clean such as brushing, flossing, mouthwashes, and other adjuncts to maintaining good dental health.