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Today in Health & Wellness
HEALTH CONDITIONS

Oral Care

Overview
Symptoms
Treatment and Management
Doctors to Consult
Overview

Common name / other name

Oral care; dental hygiene

Good oral hygiene is the most important thing for the teeth, gums, and tongue. A healthy mouth enables us to look and feel good, and this is important to our overall well-being. Proper and regular brushing and flossing are the basics in maintaining good oral hygiene.

Common oral problems that involve the teeth, tongue, and gums.

Symptoms
  • Toothache. Pain around the teeth or jaws. Toothaches are caused by tooth or jaw problems, such as a dental cavity, a cracked tooth, an exposed tooth root, gum disease, disease of the jaw joint, or spasms of the muscles used for chewing.
  • Bad breath or halitosis. Caused by poor oral hygiene and this may be a sign of other health problems such as GERD, stomach ulcers. The bad odor may be due to bacteria from decayed particles of food left in the mouth.
  • Sensitive teeth or teeth discomfort. This is commonly triggered by hot, cold, sweet, or sour foods and drinks, or even by breathing cold air. The pain can be sharp, sudden, and shoot deep into the nerve endings of the teeth. Sensitive teeth occur when the dentin (underlying layer of the teeth) becomes exposed as a result of receding gum tissue.
  • Plaque. Clear, sticky substance that usually found in teeth and gums. Plaque develops when traces of foods containing carbohydrates are frequently left on the teeth due to poor dental hygiene. Bacteria that live in the mouth thrive on these foods, producing acids as a result. Plaque when build-up results in tooth decay.
  • Gingivitis. Inflammation of the gums or the tissues that surround and supports the teeth. It is a condition that results from poor dental hygiene and characterized by red, swollen gums that bleed easily when brushed or flossed.
  • Xerostomia. A condition in which the mouth is dry because it does not produce enough saliva. Saliva helps neutralize the acid caused by plaque, making it harmless to teeth, and it helps flush away sugars that stick to teeth.
  • Leukoplakia. A white or gray patch that develops on the tongue, the inside of the cheek, or on the floor of the mouth. Caused by irritation from rough teeth, fillings, or crowns, or ill-fitting dentures that rub against your cheek or gum and smoking.
Risk Factors
Commonly Prescribed Drugs
Treatment and Management

Prevention of oral problems

  • Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once a day. Brushing prevents plaque build-up
  • Avoid brushing too hard for it can damage the enamel and gums
  • Use desensitizing toothpaste for sensitive teeth
  • Use fluorinated toothpaste
  • Avoid "sugar loaded" foods. Sugar helps plaque grow
  • Avoid using tobacco products for these cause gum disease and oral cancer
  • Practice tongue cleaning. Tongue cleaning is particularly important for people who smoke or whose tongues are coated or deeply grooved
  • Eat a balanced diet and limit the number of between-meal snacks
  • Schedule regular visit to the dentist based on how often you need exams and cleaning

Proper brushing techniques

  • Place bristles along the gum line at a 45-degree angle. Bristles should not contact both the tooth surface and gum line.
  • Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces of 2-3 teeth using a back and forth rolling motion.
  • Maintain a 45-degree angle with bristles contacting the tooth surface and gum line. Gently brush using back, forth, and rolling motion along all of the inner tooth surfaces.
  • Tilt brush vertically behind front teeth. Make several up and down strokes using the front half of the brush.
  • Place the brush against the biting surface of the teeth and use a gentle back and forth scrubbing motion. Brush the tongue from back to front to remove odor-causing bacteria.

Proper flossing techniques

  • Wind floss in each middle finger of both hands. Pinch floss between thumb and index finger leaving 1-2 inches length in between. Use thumbs to direct floss between upper teeth. For the lower teeth, use index fingers to guide and facilitate flossing.
  • Gently guide floss between the teeth by using a zig-zag motion. Do not snap floss between your teeth. Contour floss around each side of the teeth.
  • Slide floss up and down against the tooth surface and under the gum line. Floss each tooth thoroughly with a clean section of floss.
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