Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to site content Skip directly to page options
CDC Home

Q and AQUESTIONS ANSWERED

 

So what exactly is oral hygiene?

Why is it important?

How can I make sure my teeth stay shiny and bright?

Does what I eat affect how my teeth look?

 

 


QuestionSo what exactly is oral hygiene?


AnswerTaking 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.


QuestionWhy is it important?

AnswerYou know, your smile really is one of your best assets. Take care of it, and it will take care of you!



QuestionHow can I make sure my teeth stay shiny and bright?

 

Answer

It's as simple as brushing, flossing and making regular visits to the dentist.

brushing toolsThe 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.

mouthwashKeep 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.




QuestionDoes what I eat affect how my teeth look?

 

Answer

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.

sugar foodEven 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.


 

 

Contact Us:
  • Division of Population Health/School Health Branch
    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
    4770 Buford Highway, Northeast, Mailstop K-27
    Atlanta, GA 30341
  • 800-CDC-INFO
    (800-232-4636)
    TTY: (888) 232-6348
  • Contact CDC-INFO
USA.gov: The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Road Atlanta, GA 30329-4027, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #