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Dental Hygiene

Dental floss

Dental floss is an effective measure that can protect one from dental infections and gum diseases. You can use dental floss with or without the prescription of your doctor. Dental floss is usually used to clean the place between the teeth. The toothbrush cannot access this area and so, it is more prone to develop plaque. Dental floss is the only weapon to clean up the bacteria in this area.

Dental floss is a soft, thin thread made of plastic or nylon which removes food particles and plaque from between the teeth. Before using the floss, you should know the way of using it. Incorrect usage can damage your gums. It will be better to seek the advice of your doctor about using the floss. Tips for using the dental floss:

  • Take 45 cm long floss and wind it around the middle fingers of both the hands.
  • Hold it tightly with the thumb and forefinger of each hand and pull it tightly in order to get it into the gap between the teeth.
  • Gently move the floss against the sides of the teeth and under the gum line.
  • Make a circular movement with the floss. It will help you to clean under the gumline without any damage.
  • Repeat this process many times and use different movements.
  • Floss between every single tooth. Don’t forget to floss the back of the mouth and sides of the teeth.

It is very common that you may have bleeding during the first floss. With the daily process, it will stop itself and the gums will become stronger. Make sure that, the bleeding is stopped after a few days. If not, you should consult with your dentist. If you feel it difficult using long dental floss, try using a floss holder.

Diet & Dental Health

Diet has an important role in determining your dental health. Healthy teeth and gums are possible only with a healthy diet. What you eat and how you eat are very important factors. It is important to know the best food choices that can sustain your oral health.

Chicken and other meats, cheeses, nuts, and milk are considered to be some of the best choices of food items for better oral health. They can provide calcium and phosphorous to the teeth that can demineralize the teeth and protect the tooth enamel. Other food choices may include vegetables and fruits (crunchy and firm fruits like apple and pear). They have a high water content in them which can simulate the flow of saliva and dilute the effects of the sugars they contain.


Candy, cookies, chocolates, pies, raisins, dried fruits etc can be listed as poor food choices. They contain a large amount of sugar and can stick to the teeth. Such food items can invite plaque and bacteria in the mouth. Certain kinds of sugary medications can cause negative effects on the mouth.

It is important to clean your mouth after every snacking. When you choose snacks, try to avoid items that contain too many sugary elements.

Fissure Sealants

Sealants are the painless and safe way of protecting the teeth from decaying. Fissure sealants are used as an alternative to dental fillings. They are used to protect the back side of the teeth. Fissure sealants are a kind of plastic coating applied to the chewing surface of the teeth. They are used when the teeth face the risk of decay.

Sealants are applied only on the molars and premolars. The doctor will check your teeth for decay and determine whether you require sealants or not. Treatment procedures start with cleaning the tooth surface. After that, the dentist will prepare the tooth surface with a special solution. Then, the coating will be applied on the fissure. The procedure is completely pain-free and no injections are needed.

Sealants procedure does not require much follow-up treatments or special care after that. Regular check-ups are usually recommended. Keeping on track with daily oral care can help you in protecting both the sealants and your teeth.


Fluoride is a mineral that can help the tooth to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride can be found in many food items and water. Too much and too less intake of fluoride can cause dental problems in people. It is very important to make the children have enough fluoridated food items and water in order to make their teeth stronger from the early stage of development itself. Fluoride helps in remineralization and disrupts acid production in already erupted teeth. Fluoride is an essential element for the growth and development of the tooth. It is necessary to develop the habit of using fluoridated toothpaste in children. Otherwise, children can be at the risk of fluorosis. It is a disease that affects the teeth when it lacks fluoride element.

Certain diseases, which can increase the risk of tooth decay can be prevented using fluoride treatments. It may include:

  • Dry mouth conditions
  • Cavities
  • Presence of crowns, bridges and braces and
  • Gum diseases.

Fluoride treatment is safe and effective when used properly. Excess use of fluoride can cause defects in tooth enamel. They are called fluorosis.

Tips for proper use of fluoride:

  • Avoid flavoured toothpaste. Children may swallow the toothpaste and can have negative effects on your child.
  • Do not encourage your child to use toothpaste excessively. Teach them to use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Be careful about using fluoridated toothpaste in children below the age of six. Because they are more likely to swallow them.
  • Store fluoride supplements away from the reach of children.

Cleaning the teeth

Cleaning your teeth properly is the best thing that you can do to protect your teeth. Brushing and other ways of cleaning are not meant only for whitening the teeth. Cleaning is done in order to remove the bacteria and plaque from inside the mouth and make your teeth healthier. Oral health is important for the overall health of a person. You should know many things about how to clean your teeth properly.

  • Use a good toothbrush that can make your cleaning better. Choose a toothbrush that you feel comfortable to use and are gentler on the gums.
  • Keep replacing your toothbrush regularly. Replace the toothbrush in every three months or when the bristles start to splay out.
  • Use a fluoridated toothpaste. It can help in strengthening your teeth enamel.
  • Use only a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
  • Set the bristles in the right angles to clean all the areas of the tooth.
  • Clean all the teeth. It may take two to five minutes to clean the nook and corner of the teeth.
  • Don’t forget to brush the inner surface of the teeth.
  • Rinse properly after brushing until the elements of toothpaste go away completely.
  • Rinse the toothbrush after brushing.
  • Brush before you start and end the day. Do not brush just after the meal.

Just brushing may not help you in protecting your teeth. You will have to do it properly in the right manner.

Choosing a toothbrush

It is important to choose the right kind of toothbrush for you. Toothbrushes are available in the market in different varieties. But, you should look for the quality. Things like size and bristles of the toothbrush play an important role in deciding the right toothbrush for you.

A toothbrush head should be small in size so as to reach to every nook and corner inside the mouth. Best cleaning can be done using the best toothbrush head. Soft bristles will be more comfortable for most of the people. Try to select a toothbrush which has bristles with rounded tips.

Before choosing a toothbrush of your choice and comfort, try to get suggestions or recommendations from an expert. If you wish to choose a powered toothbrush, it is necessary that you must get suggestions from your dentist. He can suggest you the best brand and the ways of using the toothbrush. Powered toothbrushes are a good choice. They can clean your teeth better than the other one. People who face difficulty in brushing or people with limited manual dexterity can choose powered toothbrushes.

Choosing a toothpaste

Toothpastes are available in different flavours and varieties in the market. You may get confused to choose the best one for you. Some may prefer toothpaste with different flavours, some may choose the best-advertised one. But, what you have to do when choosing a toothpaste is:

  • Choose one with the seal of acceptance by the American Dental Association.
  • Choose the one which contains fluoride in it.
  • Choose the one which can meet the above conditions and your choice.

People with problems of teeth sensitivity and gum diseases may go for doctor’s suggestions and recommendations.

Other Health tips

Oral health is very important which can affect the overall health of an individual. It is important to make good dental habits as a part of life. Periodontal disease and dental caries have become very common nowadays. Tremendous changes in the lifestyle (especially in food habits) have affected the oral health of the people.

As been told earlier, periodontal disease and other dental infections are the results of bacterial actions. In order to avoid this, one must take all the measures to keep the mouth clean. It does not require much effort to keep the mouth healthy. The way you clean your teeth, the way you treat them may affect them accordingly. Keeping good oral health habits should become an essential part of one’s lifestyle. It should start in the early stages of life. It is considered to be the duty of the parents to teach good oral habits to their children.


Authored By Dr. Vinamra Dhariwal - Dentist, Chennai

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