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So what exactly is oral hygiene?
Taking care of your mouth and teeth by brushing, flossing and rinsing is called oral hygiene. By doing these things, you can avoid cavities, gum disease (bleeding gums), and make sure your breath is fresh.
You know, your smile really is one of your best assets. Take care of it, and it will take care of you!
It's as simple as brushing, flossing and making regular visits to the dentist.
The first step is to floss so that you get rid of food particles that get in between your teeth. If you don't, up to 35 percent of your tooth's surface doesn't get clean! It's actually easy to floss. Just wrap about a foot (or twelve inches) of floss around the middle fingers of each hand. Using your first finger, guide the floss in between the teeth and make a c-shape with it. Make sure to do both sides of every tooth! You only need to floss once a day for it to be effective.
The next step is to brush your teeth with a toothbrush that has soft bristles and a rounded end. You should try to brush gently up and down the tooth surface for 2 - 3 minutes. Make sure you hit all of those hard to reach molars in the back of your mouth and that you brush both the front and back of each tooth. That way, you'll clear all of the cavity-causing agents.
Keep in mind that gross bacteria can grow on the bristles of your toothbrush, so make sure to replace your toothbrush every 3 - 4 months, or if you have been sick. Also, make sure your toothpaste has fluoride in it. Flouride is absorbed into your teeth and makes your enamel stronger, which prevents cavities. You should brush twice a day — try it in the morning and right before you go to bed.
The final step to a shiny and bright smile is to see a dentist twice a year to have your teeth cleaned and get checked for any problems. They will probably take X-Rays to make sure that the roots of your teeth (way below the surface of your gums) are healthy and that there are no invisible cracks in your teeth that can lead to cavities.
It sure does! In fact, the most important thing that you can do to protect your teeth and keep them looking their best is limit how much sugar you eat and avoid tobacco altogether.
Even though sugar may seem harmless, it can play a major role in tooth decay. The bacteria that already live in your mouth use sugar to grow and form plaque. This plaque can form tiny holes in your teeth that will eventually become cavities. In addition, there is one bacterium (called Streptococcus mutants) that actually uses sugar as food. As it digests the sugar, it produces acid that eats the enamel of your teeth and causes cavities.
The best thing you can do is avoid sugary snacks and drinks like soda, candy, and some fruit juices. If you do eat sugar, try to brush your teeth as quickly as possible to minimize the damage to your teeth.
Tobacco is also harmful to your teeth. The first thing that you will notice is that your teeth turn an unattractive yellow color. This staining can happen really fast and the only way to get rid of it is to go to the dentist. If you were to keep smoking, as you get older, you are more likely to get gum disease, your teeth will decay more quickly, and they will appear to be even more stained — sometimes even appearing black.
- Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
Atlanta, GA 30341
TTY: (888) 232-6348
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