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Fact: Good dental hygiene is essential for healthy teeth. Myth: Most people have mastered their oral hygiene basics. You challenge? We only say myth because we know that good oral hygiene is way too easy to put off (think of all the times you went to bed without brushing your teeth and flossing). Plus, we know that things can happen and those twice yearly dental visits can get delayed. But the fact is dental visits are a must for optimal dental health; so are the tools you need to practice good oral hygiene habits — a toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. But with so many oral hygiene products out there, how do you pick? The articles in this dental hygiene resource will get you started in the right direction.
Q: What does "good oral hygiene" really mean?
A: The phrase "good oral hygiene" refers to the three things you should do to take care of your teeth: 1) brush and floss daily; 2) eat a well-balanced diet; and 3) visit the dentist on a regular basis. These dental hygiene basics shouldn't be taken lightly; together, they help prevent dental problems like tooth decay and gum disease and can keep your breath fresh not foul. Plus, practicing good oral hygiene can not only save your teeth — it can save you money too.
Q: What should a parent know about oral hygiene for children?
A: The first thing to keep in mind is that good oral hygiene starts from day one. Even when a child doesn't have teeth, it's still important to care for an infant's gums by wiping them with a soft, damp cloth or gauze after every feeding.
Then follow the "rule of ones": Take your child to the dentist after the first tooth erupts or on his or her first birthday. Brush baby teeth and use floss once two teeth grow in side by side. Taking care of baby teeth is important than you might think; it helps keep tooth decay at bay and ensures that permanent teeth grow in properly. Teaching your child to brush and floss properly — and daily — comes next. (You'll want to keep an eye on your little one to make sure he or she is brushing. Help out with flossing, if necessary.) Regular dental visits are a crucial part of dental hygiene, so make sure you bring your little ones to the dentist at least every six months. And finally, a healthy, balanced diet is not only good for their bodies but good for their teeth. Make sure your kids are drinking plenty of fluoridated water, eating plenty of vegetables and snacking on fresh fruits more than candy and other sugar-laden goodies.
Q: Should I use mouthwash?
A: Mouthwash has become an integral part of the oral hygiene regimen: Open the medicine cabinets across America and you'll probably find a bottle of mouthwash in every one. Using mouthwash can be a great way to freshen your breath, especially after eating a meal filled with odoriffic garlic and onions. These days, mouthwashes may help out with your oral hygiene in other ways too: rebuilding your enamel, fighting plaque and even protecting against gingivitis. Watch out for mouthwashes that contain alcohol; these can have a dehydrating effect and lead to dry mouth syndrome — which makes your breath smell worse not better. Before buying a mouthwash, ask your dentist what kind is best for you.