Teeth cleaning is the removal of dental plaque and tartar from teeth in order to prevent cavities, gingivitis, and gum disease. Severe gum disease causes at least one-third of adult tooth loss.
Generally, dentists recommend that teeth be cleaned professionally at least twice per year. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling, tooth polishing, and, if too much tartar has built up, debridement. This is usually followed by a fluoride treatment for children.
Between cleanings by a dental hygienist, good oral hygiene is essential for preventing tartar build-up which causes the problems mentioned above. This is done by carefully and frequently brushing with a toothbrush and the use of dental floss to prevent accumulation of plaque on the teeth.
Dental specialists recommend daily use of a tongue cleaner as an essential way to remove the debris coating the tongue, composed of a large variety of bacteria, oral fungi, decaying food particles, and dead cells, that all together generate bad breath (also named halitosis) and may affect the health of teeth and gums (tooth decay, gingivitis and periodontitis). The protein rich surface of the tongue harbors the highest amount of bacteria thriving in the oral cavity. That explains the utmost importance of thoroughly cleaning the tongue with a properly designed tongue cleaner.
The use of dental floss is an important element for good oral hygiene, since it removes the dental plaque and the decaying food remains stuck between the teeth. Flossing for a proper inter-dental cleaning is recommended at least once per day, preferably before bedtime, to help prevent receding gums, gum disease, and cavities between the teeth.
Massaging gums is generally recommended for good oral health.
Food and drink
Foods that help muscles and bones also help teeth and gums. Breads and cereals are rich in vitamin B while fruits and vegetables contain vitamin C, both of which contribute to healthy gum tissue. Lean meat, fish, and poultry provide magnesium and zinc for teeth. Some people recommend that teeth be brushed after every meal and at bedtime, and flossed at least once per day, preferably at night before sleep. For some people, flossing might be recommended after every meal.
Some foods may protect against cavities. Fluoride is a primary protector against dental cavities. Fluoride makes the surface of teeth more resistant to acids during the process of remineralisation. Drinking fluoridated water is highly recommended by dental professionals. Milk and cheese are also rich in calcium and phosphate, and may also encourage remineralisation. All foods increase saliva production, and since saliva contains buffer chemicals this helps to stabilize the pH to near 7 (neutral) in the mouth. Foods high in fiber may also help to increase the flow of saliva. Sugar-free chewing gum stimulates saliva production, and helps to clean the surface of the teeth.
Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities. Other carbohydrates, especially cooked starches, e.g. crisps/potato chips, may also damage teeth, although to a much lesser degree. This is because starch is not an ideal food for the bacteria. It has to be converted by enzymes in saliva first.
Sucrose (table sugar) is most commonly associated with cavities, although glucose, fructose, and maltose seem equally likely to cause cavities. The amount of sugar consumed at any one time is less important than how often food and drinks that contain sugar are consumed. The more frequently sugars are consumed, the greater the time during which the tooth is exposed to low pH levels, at which point demineralization occurs (below 5.5 for most people). It is important therefore to try to encourage infrequent consumption of food and drinks containing sugar so that teeth have a chance to be repaired by remineralisation and fluoride. Limiting sugar-containing foods and drinks to meal times is one way to reduce the incidence of cavities.
Artificially refined sugar is not the only type that can promote dental cavities. There are also sugars found in fresh fruit and fruit juices. In addition, these foods (oranges, lemons, limes, apples, etc.) also contain acids which lower the pH level. Soft drinks are unhealthy for the teeth, because of their lower pH and also because of their sugar content. Drinking sugared soft drinks throughout the day raises the risk of dental cavities tremendously.
Another factor which affects the risk of developing cavities is the stickiness of foods. Some foods or sweets may stick to the teeth and so reduce the pH in the mouth for an extended time, particularly if they are sugary. It is important that teeth be cleaned at least twice a day, preferably with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, to remove any food sticking to the teeth. Regular brushing and the use of dental floss also removes the dental plaque coating the tooth surface.
Chewing gum assists oral irrigation between and around the teeth, cleaning and removing particles, but for teeth in poor condition it may damage or remove loose fillings as well.
Smoking and chewing tobacco are both strongly linked with multiple dental diseases. Regular vomiting, as seen in bulimics, also causes significant damage.
Mouthwash or mouth rinse improves oral hygiene. Dental chewing gums claim to improve dental health.
Retainers can be cleaned in mouthwash or denture cleaning fluid. Dental braces may be recommended by a dentist for best oral hygiene and health. Dentures, retainers, and other appliances must be kept extremely clean. This includes regular brushing and may include soaking them in a cleansing solution.
Oral hygiene and systemic diseases
Several recent clinical studies show a direct link between poor oral hygiene (oral bacteria & oral infections) and serious systemic diseases, such as:
.: Cardiovascular Disease (Heart attack and Stroke),
.: Bacterial Pneumonia,
.: Low Birth Weight,
.: Diabetes complications,