Maintaining a good standard of dental hygiene can keep your mouth healthy and prevent a lifetime of costly and unpleasant dental problems. Nearly all dental disease can be prevented by carrying out a few small but very important cleaning procedures each day. The saying ‘look after your teeth and gums and they will last you a lifetime’ is very true.
The two most important factors in maintaining a good standard of dental hygiene are brushing and flossing. Tooth brushing has been in existence since Egyptian times over 3,000 years ago. Back then they used leaves on the end of twigs but the premise was the same. They had worked out that by keeping teeth free of debris and clean they would last a lot longer. The Egyptians may have not understood exactly why, as they were unaware of the existence of microscopic bacteria, but they knew it worked. Indian medicine (Ayurveda) has used the neem tree (a.k.a. daatun) and its products to create toothbrushes and similar products for millennia. The end of a neem twig is chewed until it is soft and splayed, and it is then used to brush the teeth. In the Muslim world, the miswak, or siwak, made from a twig or root with antiseptic properties has been widely used since the Islamic Golden Age. Rubbing baking soda or chalk against the teeth was also common. Today we know that brushing helps to remove plaque, a bacteria rich substance that clings to the surface of the teeth and gums. Acid from decaying bacteria in plaque erodes the enamel on the surface of the teeth. This causes cavities to form in the enamel. If left untreated these cavities can continue to grow until ultimately they penetrate to the centre of the tooth. This central cavity can then become infected leading to tooth ache, abscesses and eventually tooth loss. By brushing for three minutes twice a day with a suitable brush and paste, as dentists recommend, you can prevent the build of cavity forming plaque and the formation of any dental cavities.
Flossing is also very important for dental hygiene. Flossing reaches the parts of teeth that regular brushes cannot. For instance, food debris gets trapped between teeth which is too narrow for a normal brush. Dental floss can remove this debris which is the cause for over 90 per cent of causes of bad breath. Flossing also helps to clean below the gum line, where bacteria can build up. This helps to keep gums healthy and prevent painful and destructive gingivitis, also known as gum disease.
By making these few small sacrifices and tying it together with the all important six-monthly check ups with a your dentist you can help to prevent any future dental concerns. An extra few minutes each day to maintain dental hygiene is a small price to pay for a life free of the pain and worry caused by dental disease.