Is brushing your teeth twice a day enough to maintain your teeth? Or do you need to do a tad bit more for your shiny white pearls? World Oral Health Day is celebrated every year on 20th March. It is a year-long campaign dedicated to raising global awareness for the issues around oral health and the importance of oral hygiene. The official theme of the 2021 World Oral Health Day (WOHD) campaign is Be Proud of Your Mouth. Oral diseases, such as tooth decay (dental caries) and gum disease, can impact every aspect of life, from relationships and self-confidence through to school, work and the ability to interact with others. But oral diseases can be prevented, through the practice of a good oral hygiene routine, every day. 

TC46 connected with Dr Arvind Thakur, Consultant-Dental Sciences, Hiranandani Hospital, Vashi – A Fortis network hospital to learn more on oral hygiene. Here, he also shares 10 tips to maintain the best oral health and how one can brush their teeth the right way. 

Did You Know?

Oral diseases affect nearly 3.5 billion people and are often linked to other serious health issues. These diseases often lead to pain, discomfort, social isolation, loss of self-confidence, and lost hours at work or school, too.

1. Maintaining oral health is vital for general well-being

The purpose of World Oral Health Day is to raise awareness about oral health, to empower people with the knowledge and importance of good oral hygiene practices. It also highlights the importance of optimal oral health in maintaining general health and well-being.

2. Applying pressure while brushing can be harmful

Some of the common mistakes one makes while brushing your teeth includes:

  • The wrong angle of brushing: people hold the brush 90 degrees to the tooth surface, which causes cervical abrasion. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gum line
  • Most people apply too much pressure while brushing, this will hurt their gums and teeth. Gently brush your teeth without hurting your gums
  • Don’t use an old toothbrush: When your toothbrush bristles become bent, discoloured or begin falling out, it’s a good idea to make a change
  • Apart from brushing, you should do flossing and tongue scraping

3. Poor oral health leads to mouth diseases and oral cancer 

The patient’s failure to maintain good oral hygiene habits, such as regular brushing and flossing of teeth to remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and increased intake of foods (sugars and acidic foods), habits (such as smoking) contribute to poor oral hygiene and dental diseases. Poor oral health leads to cavities, tooth decay, periodontal disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and oral cancer. Some of the most common mouth diseases ulcers, sores, bleeding gums, sensitivity, toothache, bad breath, loose teeth, swollen gums, cavity, receding gums, swelling of jaws, clicking of jaws, broken teeth and dry mouth. 

4. Gingivitis is usually the result of plaque buildup

Gum disease, also called gingivitis, is inflammation of the gums. It is usually the result of plaque building up on your teeth due to poor brushing and flossing habits. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss regularly. Use mouthwash regularly. Drink plenty of water, eat nutritious food, enjoy a good sleep, avoid stress and take vitamin supplements (as per your doctor’s advice).

5. Control malodour with a low-fat diet

Bad breath is caused by certain foods (e.g., garlic) or drinks for a transient period after consumption and that will only last 24-72hrs. The best way to control this type of malodour is to refrain from ingesting offending substances. 

Other causes for bad breath include:

  • Oral conditions: Oral tongue coating (poor oral hygiene), gingivitis-ANU, periodontitis, xerostomia, pericoronitis, candidiasis, oral cancer, dry socket, osteomyelitis, osteonecrosis
  • Debris under appliances like dentures, removable orthodontic appliances, bridges

Remedies for bad breath:

  • Gargle with water
  • Brush your teeth, tongue, the roof of your mouth, and gums at least twice a day with toothpaste
  • Floss your teeth once each day
  • Eat a low-fat diet rich in fruits and vegetables
  • Eat less meat
  • Do not smoke or use other tobacco products, such as snuff or chewing (spit) tobacco
  • Avoid foods and drinks that cause bad breath, such as garlic and alcohol
  • Remove dentures, removable bridges, partial plates, or orthodontic appliances and clean them once each day or as directed by your dentist. 
  • Use a mouthwash for temporary relief of bad breath. Swish it around in your mouth for 30 seconds before spitting it out.

6. Dentin hypersensitivity results from tooth decay and fractures

Tooth sensitivity is also referred to as dentin hypersensitivity. It can also be the result of gum disease, receding gums, a cracked tooth, worn-down fillings or crowns. Toothaches result from tooth decay, tooth fracture (broken tooth), damaged filling. Good oral hygiene is the best way to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and the development of sensitivity.

Some of the most common solutions include:

  • Saltwater: Saltwater is one of the most common solutions to tooth sensitivity. It is also a natural antiseptic that provides instant relief in the sensitive tooth. Rinse your mouth with salt water twice a day to reduce sensitivity and pain.
  • Clove oil: Cloves have been used for their anti-inflammatory, anaesthetic and anti-bacterial properties, that reduce pain and fight oral infections
  • Fluoride toothpaste and  mouthwash

If your toothache is severe or is the result of a more serious medical condition, you need to see your dentist so they can treat it properly. You should also see your dentist if you experience any symptoms like fever, trouble breathing or swallowing, general pain that lasts more than one or two days, swelling, pain when you bite, abnormally red gums, foul-tasting discharge, or pus.

7. Snoring can cause dry mouth or xerostomia

One experiences dry mouth due to xerostomia (less salivary secretion), ageing, medication, tobacco use and alcohol use. Dry mouth can be due to certain health conditions, such as diabetes or due to autoimmune diseases, such as Sjogren’s syndrome. Snoring and breathing with your mouth open also can contribute to dry mouth.

You can tackle dry mouth syndrome with these common home remedies:

  • Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate the flow of saliva
  • Sip water regularly
  • Avoid using over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants
  • Breathe through your nose, not your mouth

8. A balanced diet, limited sugar and alcohol intake can lead to a better oral health

Eat a healthy balanced diet. Limit intake of sugary food and drinks. Avoid frequent snacking. Abstain from alcohol and tobacco products as they affect the composition and appearance of your teeth and gums.

For people with Diabetes, put in extra effort to maintain control of the disease, as it will decrease the chances of gum and dental diseases. Follow a proper diet filled with calcium-enriched produce and leafy vegetables. It is best to avoid sugar, as it breaks down the enamel coating and results in tooth decay.

9. Use kitchen ingredients like salt, neem, for dental care

Some manufacturers claim to produce toothpaste to treat specific conditions. Toothpaste containing olive oil, betaine and xylitol can stimulate salivary secretion when at rest, thus increasing the basal rate of salivary secretion. Toothpaste containing natural plant extracts showed similar antibacterial effectiveness as chlorhexidine containing toothpaste. There is little evidence available in the literature regarding ingredients like salt, charcoal, neem and tulsi in toothpaste and their beneficial effect on oral health. Further and long term research is needed to study their effect on oral health.

10. Brushing your teeth the right way and following an oral care routine

Besides brushing your teeth, you can follow the following practice to maintain oral hygiene;

  • Floss every day
  • After brushing and flossing, use mouthwash
  • Drink plenty of water daily
  • Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
  • Schedule regular dental check-ups

The right way to brush your teeth is when your brush bristles are placed at the gingival margin at a 45-degree angle to the tooth. This allows the bristle to extend into the Gingival Sulcus when pressure is applied to the brush in the horizontal direction. Start brushing from the last tooth in the arch and continue brushing to cover the last tooth on the opposite side. In this way, no tooth will be left from brushing.

A step-by-step guide to tooth brushing:

  • Outside Of The Teeth: Angle your brush at a 45-degree angle while brushing the outside surfaces of your teeth and gum line
  • Inside Of The Teeth: Move the brush to the inside surface of your teeth, while keeping the brush at a 45-degree angle to clean the gum line
  • Chewing Surfaces: Brush the chewing surfaces of your teeth while holding the toothbrush flat on the top surface of the tooth
  • Clean Your Tongue: Use any extra time you have to clean the bacteria off your tongue, which often appears as a white build-up. This will help keep your breath smelling fresh.
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