Human Tooth - Tooth Care

Tooth Care

Oral hygiene is the practice of keeping the mouth clean and is a means of preventing dental caries, gingivitis, periodontal disease, bad breath, and other dental disorders. It consists of both professional and personal care. Regular cleanings, usually done by dentists and dental hygienists, remove tartar (mineralized plaque) that may develop even with careful brushing and flossing. Professional cleaning includes tooth scaling, using various instruments or devices to loosen and remove deposits from teeth.

The purpose of cleaning teeth is to remove plaque, which consists mostly of bacteria. Healthcare professionals recommend regular brushing twice a day (in the morning and in the evening, or after meals) in order to prevent formation of plaque and tartar. A toothbrush is able to remove most plaque, except in areas between teeth. As a result, flossing is also considered a necessity to maintain oral hygiene. When used correctly, dental floss removes plaque from between teeth and at the gum line, where periodontal disease often begins and could develop caries.

Electric toothbrushes are a popular aid to oral hygiene. A user without disabilities, with proper training in manual brushing, and with good motivation, can achieve standards of oral hygiene at least as satisfactory as the best electric brushes, but untrained users rarely achieve anything of the kind. Not all electric toothbrushes are equally effective and even a good design needs to be used properly for best effect, but: "Electric toothbrushes tend to help people who are not as good at cleaning teeth and as a result have had oral hygiene problems." The most important advantage of electric toothbrushes is their ability to aid people with dexterity difficulties, such as those associated with rheumatoid arthritis.

Fluoride therapy is often recommended to protect against dental caries. Water fluoridation and fluoride supplements decrease the incidence of dental caries. Fluoride helps prevent dental decay by binding to the hydroxyapatite crystals in enamel. The incorporated fluoride makes enamel more resistant to demineralization and thus more resistant to decay. Topical fluoride, such as a fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash, is also recommended to protect teeth surfaces. Many dentists include application of topical fluoride solutions as part of routine cleanings.

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