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The science and reasoning behind common oral hygiene tips as well as some common mistakes that a lot of us make. Understanding the why behind everyday oral hygiene practices.

We are all taught basic hygiene tips during childhood. In fact, one of the first things that we learn about basic hygiene is to brush our teeth daily to prevent our teeth from getting diseased. Yet, all indices have shown repeatedly that the incidence of dental problems is actually increasing all over the world. One reason for this is incomplete information being taught to the people which can lead to a development of counter productive habits.

Through careful observation and scientifically controlled studies, dental practitioners now know that some of the commonly taught practices need to be altered and/or explained in further detail so as to a lot of heartache and hassle. An understanding of the thinking behind commonly prescribed practices, as well as some of the common mistakes people make will help in achieving a higher level of oral health.

Here are some basic tips that you have been taught, updated to reflect our current knowledge.

Brushing Your Teeth: The Truth

Brushing twice a day is instilled into almost every child at a young age. Nothing new about this right? Here is the important part. It is important to brush twice a day with a soft or a super soft tooth brush. All tooth brushes, whether manual or power, simple configuration or a complex arrangement of bristles, have to abide by ADA laid down specifications for bristle width and hardness.

These toothbrushes are then divided into hard, medium and soft tooth brushes. So in practicality, any tooth brush of any company that has "soft" on its packaging will be identical. A lot of people tend to go for a medium or a hard tooth brush, thinking it will be more effective in cleaning their teeth. Not only has this been found to be untrue, it is also detrimental to the health of your teeth and gums.

Here is the logic: The two most common forms of dental disease, tooth decay and gum disease, are caused by a thin layer of plaque that attaches to the teeth. Over a period of time this plaque gets mineralized and becomes what is commonly known as tartar or calculus.Though this calculus is unsightly to look at and helps in more plaque attachment to the teeth, it does not cause disease by itself.

So, a soft tooth brush is enough to remove this pair of plaque from the teeth as well as preventing any self inflicted damage to the teeth.

The tartar is attached to the teeth via stronger forced than you can generate with your tooth brush and needs to be removed by a hygienist or a dentist as a part of regular recall maintenance visits.

Have you ever wondered why it is recommended to brush twice a day specifically? Why not thrice out four times?

See Also: A Brief Look At Periodontal Surgery

There is a solid logic to this. This number is based on the amount of time estimated for disease causing bacteria to start colonizing this plaque. Try and think of plaque like a micro-colony of various residents — some good, some bad. This plaque begins to form on our teeth as soon as we are finished brushing, however the initial bacteria to colonize the teeth are protective in nature and do not cause any harm. The pathogenic population of bacteria only starts to appear after 12 hours.

Thus, brushing once every 12 hours, so twice a day is recommended all over the world.
Continue reading after recommendations

  • 1. Educational issues in oral care.Seminars in Oncology Nursing.Volume 20, Issue 1, February 2004, Pages 48–52
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