Facts About Oral Hygiene

Photo of a man and woman holding up enlarged photos of smiles in front of their faces

How often do people brush their teeth? Is tooth decay common in adults just like it is in children? What hygiene practices do you actually need to keep your mouth healthy? These are just a few questions that patients often ask. Find out what oral health problems are the most common, what oral hygiene practices you need, and statistics of how well Americans take care of their mouths!


What Is Oral Hygiene?

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping your mouth clean and free of disease. You do this through tactics such as brushing your teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste, flossing, using mouthwash, using fluoride products and more. Oral hygiene practices are what you do to have great oral health, or a healthy mouth. A healthy mouth is important because it affects your overall health. Everything you eat, the air you breathe, speaking, biting, chronic conditions and more all start with your mouth. If you practice good oral hygiene techniques, you can significantly reduce your oral health problems and even overall health problems.


Brushing and Flossing Properly

Did you know that there are ways to brush and floss properly to keep your mouth healthy? Many people just do these oral hygiene basics without realizing that there may be a better way. With brushing, make sure you are doing it at least morning and night. Nighttime is especially important because if food is left on the teeth, it has time to erode your tooth enamel all night long. You shouldn’t brush right after a meal in many cases. Why? Because many foods (such as soda) have acids or other substances in them that can actually brush off a layer of your enamel. It’s best to wait 30 minutes after eating to brush and floss your teeth.


For many patients it’s beneficial to actually floss before and sometimes even after brushing. If you floss before, make sure you use the floss and scrape it along your tooth as you go up and down. Also, get up into the gum line on each side of the tooth to dislodge stuck food. Many patients get gingivitis or tooth decay because they don’t floss up into the gumline. Follow with a soft-brislted toothbrush and ADA-approved toothpaste that contains fluoride. When you brush, make sure you wet the brush so that it can help the toothpaste to create suds. Brush not only the front of the teeth, but also the back, and move your brush in many different angles and even circles. With your brushing, avoid brushing too hard so you don’t damage your tooth enamel. Every 3 months, replace your toothbrush with a new one, or whenever the bristles become frayed. All these tips can help ensure you have great oral hygiene!


Picture of many oral hygiene products such as floss, toothbrush, toothpaste, etc.

Facts About Oral Hygiene

Did you know that not enough people brush and floss their teeth each day, even if they know these practices are important? Consider these statistics when it comes to oral hygiene and oral health:

  • Oral hygiene basics include brushing, flossing, using fluoride and mouthwash, and seeing the dentist often.
  • Every patient needs to visit the dentist at least twice a year for comprehensive exams and dental cleanings.
  • As soon as an infant gets their first tooth, they should start seeing the dentist twice a year.
  • Only 65% of American adults visit the dentist each year. Coincidentally, about 32% have untreated tooth decay (which is almost the entire amount of people who don’t see the dentist).
  • Tooth decay is the most prevalent chronic disease among children and adults according to the National Institutes of Health.
  • Gum disease (a side-effect of not brushing and flossing) affects over 64.7 million American adults, and leads to tooth loss.
  • Minimizing your sugar intake will reduce your risk for cavities. Plaque causes cavities and is made from sugars in the food you eat mixed with mouth bacteria. The more sugar you eat, the more plaque you make.
  • Those who smoke, chew tobacco or drink alcohol have a significantly higher chance for tooth decay, gum disease, and oral cancer.


Woman holding up a toothbrush that has toothpaste on it

Tips for Your Mouth

Having better oral hygiene starts with the decision to have a better, cleaner and healthier mouth. The American Dental Association recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day to keep them healthy and free of plaque. You should also be flossing at least once a day if not more. However, you want to also be using the right products for your mouth. For toothpaste, make sure you choose toothpastes that work well for your age and size. Children toothpastes will be gentle on a child’s teeth and will be free of some chemicals that might be harmful for their small size, but not for adults. Pick a toothpaste that fits the age group of the person using it.


For toothbrushes, make sure you choose a brush that is comfortable for your mouth and for the hand you use to brush. Toothbrushes come in all shapes and sizes. There are gum brushes for infants just getting their teeth, child training brushes for toddlers, small brushes for kids and all sorts of adult brushes. Your brush should fit comfortably in your hand and should be able to brush 1-2 teeth at a time. The head of the brush should fit comfortably in your mouth without being too small or too large. If you feel comfortable brushing, odds are that you will do it more and have better oral hygiene.


What’s Next?

If you’ve mastered brushing and flossing, make sure you are also visiting the dentist! Only a dentist is trained to examine x-rays properly and to spot the signs of tooth decay, oral cancer, gum disease and more. If you want better oral hygiene, visiting the dentist for biannual cleanings and exams is a must! If it’s been awhile since your last appointment, schedule one today by calling Niles Family Dentistry at (720) 744-0001!


Ashley Niles

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