Oral hygiene: keeping your teeth clean

  • Cost: From £40 for a clean to £1000s for advanced gum treatment
  • Treatment length: depends on the case
  • Used for: Stained teeth, yellow teeth, discoloured teeth, gum disease
  • Available: From most dentists / hygienists

What is oral and dental hygiene?

Oral and dental hygiene refers to the practice of keeping your mouth healthy and clean by following regular and correct brushing and flossing routines. This helps to prevent the formation of plaque, which is the sticky film of bacteria that forms on the hard surfaces of teeth, leading to dental decay and gum disease.

before dental cleaning
after teeth cleaning, scale and polish
These photos were kindly donated by Dr Sunita Verma

What are the results of good dental hygiene?

A healthy-looking and odourless mouth, which comprises of:

What is the purpose of dental hygiene?

Good dental and oral hygiene helps to:

What are the symptoms of improper dental hygiene?

What are the potential consequences of improper oral hygiene?

Tooth decay, dental caries, cavities, gum irritation and foul breath - As a result of improper oral hygiene, plaque accumulates on the hard surfaces of teeth; when you eat, the bacteria use the sugar and starch from your food to release acid. This acid:

The cavities are usually cleaned and refilled with an inert material by the dentists to retain and restore the teeth as well as protect them from further tooth decay. If left untreated, it can result in loss of entire teeth.

Tartar or calculus - Constant accumulation of plaque as a result of irregular brushing and flossing results in the hardening of plaque into a yellow or brown mineral deposit called tartar or calculus. As a result of its crusty and rough surface, teeth then become ideal locations for further plaque growth. Tartar leads to gum disease when it is formed below the gumline.

Gingivitis - This is the initial stage of gum disease and is characterized by:

If treated with adequate dental care, it is reversible. If ignored, it can lead to a more serious and advanced form of gum disease called periodontitis.

Periodontitis. This is advanced gum disease, which leads to the destruction of structures supporting the teeth, including the bone; this causes the loosening of teeth, requiring their removal as a result. The signs of the condition are red, swollen, bleeding gums that shrink away from the teeth. The resulting widening spaces between the teeth and exposed root surfaces are highly vulnerable to decay.

How can one maintain good dental hygiene?

Proper dental and oral hygiene will prevent the formation of plaque, which, as explained above, is the main factor that leads to gum disease and tooth decay. Parents must guide children as to the proper dental hygiene methods they should practise daily. You can also seek your dentist’s advice about the proper oral and dental hygiene practices to be followed.

Antiseptic mouthwashes
Use regularly after brushing and/or flossing to kill plaque-forming bacteria, and especially if you have bad breath.

Fluoride use
Flouride protects and strengthens your teeth by binding with enamel. Use fluoride in toothpaste, fluoridated drinking water or dental treatments, or take a fluoride supplement.

Precautions to be taken in your oral hygiene program

Taking care of your teeth begins in infancy and will be a lifelong concern. There are some precautions that must be taken at various life-stages and under various conditions.

Brushing and flossing precautions:


Healthy eating for healthy teeth

Eating a balanced diet plays an important role in dental health. A balanced diet includes all the main food groups: fruits and vegetables, milk products, meat, fish, etc.

Foods that cause tooth decay:

Foods that are good for oral health:

Good eating habits