Oral hygiene is the practice of maintaining a clean, fresh and healthy mouth. Many people are indifferent towards this practice having no idea of the consequences that may result if the mouth is not provided with proper care. Proper care of oral structures does more than protect one from oral diseases. It brings about numerous positive results including good overall health, great personality and also helps to boost self-confidence.
If oral hygiene and health is not properly maintained, it can lead to many complications that affect the overall body health as well. However, the consequences of inadequate or improper oral care can be prevented by following the right procedures on a daily basis.
Doctor Vipula Wickramasinghe
General Secretary of the Sri Lankan Dental Association and Regional dental surgeon of the Colombo district.
Doctor Vipula Wickramasinghe, General Secretary of the Sri Lankan Dental Association and Regional dental surgeon of Colombo district, explained why it is important to maintain good oral hygiene and health.
Also, the use of mouthwash should only be practiced if prescribed by the dentist. Overuse of mouthwash can cause harmful effects and damage oral health
Importance of maintaining good oral hygiene and health
According to Dr. Wickramasinghe, maintenance of a healthy mouth includes the proper care of teeth, the tongue, lips and all other structures that are present within the mouth. These structures should be kept clean in order to ensure a standard oral hygiene and health.
Dr. Wickramasinghe explained that a good set of teeth is important for a good personality, just as much as it is important for chewing and biting food. He stated that good strong teeth can provide better nutrition to the body. The teeth, along with the tongue and lips aid in speaking and proper pronunciation of words.
Good oral care ensures healthy teeth that would retain for a longer period during life. If the mouth is not properly cleaned, it is prone to generate bad odours and also give rise to diseases such as tongue diseases, dental caries, oral cancers and discolouration of teeth.
Dr. Wickramasinghe stressed the fact that ‘general health is reflected from the mouth’. He explained that if the mouth is bad, it meant that the general health is bad as well. Therefore, the maintenance of a healthy, clean mouth should be practised daily.
Good oral care ensures healthy teeth that would retain for a longer period during life
Steps that lead to good oral hygiene and health
As Dr. Wickramasinghe said, the main step leading to good oral hygiene is the proper brushing of teeth. It should be done twice a day, especially at night. Brushing teeth with the use of fluoridated toothpaste, specifically after dinner, is very important. This prevents plaque buildup and overnight bacterial activity which can cause tooth decay and gum diseases. When brushing teeth, cleaning the tongue should not be skipped. Cleaning the tongue daily helps to avoid bad breath and keeps the oral cavity fresh. Also, taste buds present in the mouth contain receptors that grant the ability to experience different tastes. Therefore, they must be cleaned daily.
Another measure that should be taken in order to maintain good oral health is to reduce the daily intake of sugar. Dr. Wickramasinghe mentioned that all forms of sugar, including the amount mixed with tea and coffee should be reduced effectively. The consumption of cake, buns, chocolates and other starchy food should be reduced. These types of food can be replaced by fruits and vegetables which are healthy and rewarding in many ways.
Dr. Wickramasinghe also stated that it is beneficial to both the mouth and overall body health if a balanced diet is followed.
It is crucial to keep the oral cavity hydrated at all times. As the natural remedy for all health problems, water plays an important role even in maintaining a good oral hygiene. Drinking adequate water daily should be made a habit in order to stay hydrated. However, if people live in high fluoridated areas with a high concentration of fluoride in natural water, they are subjected to discolouration of teeth. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the fluoride concentration present in drinking water.
Brushing teeth with the use of fluoridated toothpaste, specifically after dinner, is very important. This prevents plaque buildup and overnight bacterial activity which can cause tooth decay and gum diseases
Factors to be aware of
Dr. Wickramasinghe explained that people who are engaged in contact sports such as rugby, hockey and cricket have a higher risk of damaging the facial profile. Therefore, special attention and proper care should be given to the mouth area. He indicated that it is vital to wear helmets and mouth guards when engaging in such sports.
Helmets should definitely be worn when riding bicycles and motorcycles as unexpected accidents can cause tooth related sufferings.
Dr. Wickramasinghe also mentioned the importance of refraining from chewing betel quid as it is a major cause for oral cancers. He also advised to refrain from smoking as it is also one of the main causes of oral diseases. Smoking causes blood to lack oxygen and this leads to inevitable complications such as severe gum diseases and staining of teeth.
Furthermore, he advised to use teeth to do what they are meant to do only and to refrain from activities which are not suitable for the mouth. For example, biting wires, opening tight bottle lids and cans and other unsuitable actions that can damage the oral structures.
Also, the use of mouthwash should only be practiced if prescribed by the dentist. Overuse of mouthwash can cause harmful effects and damage oral health.
Dr. Wickramasinghe instructed to visit the dentist for immediate treatment if any tooth sensitivity or dental problem occurs. He advised not to attempt any home remedies. Treatments by the dentists include simple fillings as well as painful nerve fillings.
It is important to get dental checkups once in six months to detect if there is any fault in the mouth so that treatment can be obtained without delay. Regular checkups are therefore mandatory in order to preserve a good oral hygiene and health as well as a good personality.